The topic of the thesis is "Marine Spatial Planning by the State as trustee of coastal public property".


The relevance of the thesis: 

The research grapples with questions surrounding whether the Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) instruments are consistent with the public trust doctrine that underlies South Africa’s environmental legislation. Firstly, on the one hand, the MSP Act in section 3 states that it applies on or in South African waters. South African waters are defined in section 1 as internal waters, territorial waters, the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the continental shelf. On the other hand, chapter 6 of NEMICMA establishes a comprehensive planning system that is used to facilitate the attainment of coastal management objectives anywhere within the coastal zone. The coastal zone is defined in section 1 of NEMICMA to include the area comprising coastal public property, the coastal protection zone, coastal access land, coastal protected areas, the seashore and coastal waters, and any aspect of the environment on, in, under and above such area. However, since the marine area to which the MSP Act applies falls wholly within the coastal zone,  it will overlap with the planning system established by NEMICMA. Whilst this issue of overlap will not be examined exclusively, it will be addressed for the purpose of providing an enabling structure for an informed and principled discussion of how the overlap will be dealt with in the regulation of MSP.

A further source of confusion resides in that if there is a conflict in coastal planning between the two statutes which statute will prevail? Considering both statutes claim that they will prevail in cases of conflicts covering their specific subject matters.  This thesis must then determine the legislation that will prevail if and when such instances arise. This determination is important because it directly impacts whether the State will be able to discharge its duties as a trustee of coastal public property when implementing MSP.

Secondly, the MSP Act which will form part of the web of environmental legislation neither expressly mentions the public trust doctrine nor the rights and obligations the implementation of MSP places on the State. At best, the MSP Act in section 5 (g) identifies the promotion of justice, equity between and transformation of sectors as one of the principles that will underpin the MSP process. The non-legal MSP Framework clarifies that this promotion of justice, equity between and transformation of sectors principle recognises that South Africa’s ocean space and its resources are a common good and are held in trust by the State for its people and future generations.  Be that as it may, this explanation is inadequate as it does not define the role and set out the obligations that come in the application of this doctrine on the implementation and regulation of MSP in South Africa. The thesis investigates the above from a South African perspective.


Additional Research done under the Chair:

1. Assisted the Chair in updating the following book, PHG Vrancken South Africa and the Law of the Sea (2011).

2. Co-authored an article titled 'Fishing for Equality in Marine Spatial Planning'.

3. In the process of co-authoring an article titled 'Fishing for administrative justice in marine spatial planning: small-scale fishers’ right to written reasons'.

3. Co-authored a chapter in a book with Prof Vrancken titled Cooperative Governance in Marine Spatial Planning.


Previous Qualifications:

LLB Cum Laude (completed 2015, Nelson Mandela University), 

LLM (completed 2017, Nelson Mandela University). Dissertation Title: Constitutional and Human Rights Aspects of Marine Spatial Planning.

Last updated: 2020.08.27. A.A

Contact information
Dr Rachael Chasakara
Investigator (Equality-Related Complaints)