Fisheries and Aquaculture Support

What is the purpose of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Support DeST?

The Fisheries and Aquaculture Decision Support Tool (DeST) provides a capability for monitoring and assessing risk of HAB events for the South African coastal area to approximately 50 km offshore. Risk assessment and monitoring is based on quantified understanding of bloom dynamics (Pitcher & Nelson, 2006), hypoxic impacts (Pitcher et al 2014), and earth observation monitoring capabilities (Bernard et al 2006). Maps of various ocean colour-derived phytoplankton biomass proxies, sea surface temperature, and ocean state (wind, current, sea state) are used to provide information on the presence and movement of blooms, and extracted time series of these data provide a “virtual buoy” capability giving a multi-parameter risk index.

Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in joining the Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Advisory Group (TAG) or if you have any suggestions for improvement.

What's wrong with HABs?

The South African west and south coasts suffer from the frequent occurrence of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). These blooms can have considerable negative impacts on commercial marine concerns such as rock lobster and aquaculture operations, in addition to local marine ecosystems and communities. Examples of typical rock lobster loss for large events range from 200 to 2000 tonnes, with an estimated direct economic loss of ± 8 USD to 80 million USD per event, in addition to the indirect ecosystem and sustainability impacts. In Feb 2015, 200 tonnes of cape rock lobster suffered from hypoxia and exited the ocean with 80% mortality. The economic value of the event was estimated at R114 million.

HAB impacts come about through either the toxicity (to humans and animals) of some bloom species (e.g. red tides), or collapse of high biomass blooms through nutrient exhaustion, leading in extreme cases to hypoxia and dramatic mortalities of marine organisms, of which crayfish strandings on the West Coast are the most well-known. HABs are expected to become more common as the oceans warm as the climate changes, with earlier onset and longer durations of HAB “seasons”.

The South African approach

The Fisheries and Aquaculture DeST utilises South African scientific knowledge about marine ecosystem function and oceanographic patterns

Localised algorithms

Are created to extract regionally relevant information out of globally available earth observation datasets and numerical models 


Automated analytical processing chains produce open standards compliant datasets and data services that are composed into a web application that is specifically tailored to support South African socio-economic activities and protect natural resources.

Who benefits?

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Aquaculture industry

OCIMS has partnered with commercial aquaculture farms to improve early warning efforts.

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Commercial fisheries

OCIMS provides sea state information to commercial fisheries to help plan their activities.

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Small scale subsistence fishers

In partnership with Abalobi, OCIMS provides sea state information to small scale fishers to help plan their activities.


  1. European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Organisation for Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT)
    Sentinel 2 series, providing products at 10 m to 60 m resolution every five days and the Sentinel 3 series, providing products at ±300 m resolution every day.
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