Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Norway is helping SA collect data to manage its ocean economy.

The Nordic country is providing funding for a ship setting sail from Durban to research the distribution and abundance of fish stocks‚ biodiversity‚ environmental conditions and occurrence of micro-plastics.

The research vessel houses seven different laboratories packed with hi-tech equipment‚ and is the only marine research ship in the world that flies the UN flag.

The EAF-Nansen Programme is funded by the government of Norway through the Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation and implemented by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)‚ in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute for Marine Research that operates the vessel and provides scientific services to the programme.

Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana addressed the ship’s first port of call event marking the official start of the voyage of the Dr Fridtjof Nansen‚ in Durban. This is according to a statement issued by his department on Friday.

The FAO representative in SA‚ Lewis Hove‚ stressed the importance of the partnership between the organisation and the Norwegian government. The 2018 regional research programme of the ship starts in Durban‚ and is expected to end in October in Phuket‚ Thailand.

"The survey will cover the south-eastern part of Africa and [the] Indian Ocean as well as the Bay of Bengal. This new and impressive ship brings important innovations and technological capabilities necessary to improve scientific research‚" said Hove.

In SA‚ 312-million kilograms of seafood is consumed each year. Half of this is locally caught; 70% is sardine and hake‚ according to the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative.