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If SA’s claim before the UN to expand its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is successful, its ocean holdings will be almost three times the size of the country itself.The application is for the EEZ — which, at more than 1.5mkm², is already bigger than our 1.06mkm² mainland area — to be increased by 1.87mkm². Environmental affairs minister Edna Molewa projects that our sea will create 1m jobs and add US$10bn to SA’s GDP by 2033.But the expansion will bring with it a maritime security headache to match the economic promise of more than doubled seabed fishing and hydrocarbons exploration rights.A conference at the Security Institute for Governance & Leadership in Africa (Sigla) in Stellenbosch in May was asked whether SA would need a coast guard to patrol such extensive waters to prevent illegal crustacean fishing, waste-dumping and other criminal activities. Though the navy will gain three offshore patrol vessels by about 2022, will these ships be mandated to deal with illegal, unregula...

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