Marine protection gets the nod

2018-11-06 06:01

A network of 20 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) has been approved by the national Cabinet.

This was announced by the Department of Environmental Affairs last week.

“This network of 20 MPAs, approved by Cabinet on Wednesday 24 October, will considerably advance South Africa’s efforts to protect our ocean heritage for future generations. They will contribute to fisheries’ sustainability, advance marine ecotourism, and help maintain resilience in ecosystems that are under stress from climate change,” acting minister of environmental affairs, Derek Hanekom, says in a statement.

Until now, less than 0.5% of South Africa’s waters have been protected through 19 MPAs (“Protecting local waters”, People’s Post, 9 October). This is in comparison to the around 8% of Terrestrial Protected Areas such as the Kruger National Park and Table Mountain National Park, says Department of Environmental Affairs regional spokesperson, Zolile Nqayi.

In 2014, the South African government endorsed a plan to achieve a viable MPA network. This would see around 10% of South African waters protected by 2020. In February 2016, 22 MPAs were proposed.

“South Africa’s ocean space, which is one of the most varied in the world, is highly productive with rich biodiversity providing living and non-living resources that contribute significantly to the country’s economy and to job creation. As we grow and intensify the ocean economy, it is essential to provide the necessary protection to a representative sample of marine ecosystems, thereby ensuring their resilience to human use and impact, and to the impacts associated with climate change,” says Hanekom.

One of the proposed MPAs is that of Robben Island. Besides the cultural and heritage value of the island, the waters around it are home to kelp forests and the coastal nests of seabirds such as the endangered African penguin, endangered bank cormorants and terns.

Two Oceans Aquarium curator, Maryke Musson, previously told People’s Post: “Robben Island is an important cultural and historical World Heritage Site and home to incredible sealife. It is in a very busy maritime area being so close to Cape Town Harbour, and is also a significant tourist destination.”

Marine Protected Areas are key to replenishing biodiversity and nourishing the growing human population, Musson says.

“An MPA is any area of the marine environment that enjoys a higher level of protection for part or all of the natural and cultural resources therein. Marine Protected Areas, if managed properly, can be an effective way of protecting marine ecosystems and their associated cultural and historical heritage for future generations to experience and enjoy. A protected ecosystem tends to be more resistant and resilient to disturbances and serves as an effective insurance policy against overfishing and loss of?biodiversity.”

MPAs provide safe spaces in which fish can breed undisturbed. They are essential to maintain eco-certification of the South African deep-sea trawl fisheries industry. This certification process assesses whether habitat and nursery areas for the hake fishery industry are adequately protected. MPAs also contribute to growing South Africa’s marine eco-tourism sector by providing undisturbed natural habitat for whales, sharks, seals, dolphins, turtles and seabirds for tourists to experience, explains Nqayi.

“An adequate network of MPAs will also provide the basis for ongoing resilience to the impact of climate change. Oceans are an essential component of the climate system, absorbing and transferring heat, and regulating the exchange of carbon dioxide (CO2) with the atmosphere.

“With increasing CO2 levels, and rising ocean temperatures, this regulatory capacity is at risk. The network of MPAs will assist in building ecological resilience, and therefore social and economic resilience in the growing ocean economy.”

V For more information on South Africa’s MPAs, visit www.marineprotectedareas.org.za.

A network of 20 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) has been approved by the national Cabinet. This was announced by the Department of Environmental Affairs last week.

“This network of 20 MPAs, approved by Cabinet on Wednesday 24 October, will considerably advance South Africa’s efforts to protect our ocean heritage for future generations. They will contribute to fisheries’ sustainability, advance marine ecotourism, and help maintain resilience in ecosystems that are under stress from climate change,” acting minister of environmental affairs, Derek Hanekom, says in a statement­.

Until now, less than 0.5% of South Africa’s waters have been protected through 19 MPAs (“Protecting local waters”, People’s Post, 9 October). This is in comparison to the around 8% of Terrestrial Protected Areas such as the Kruger National Park and Table Mountain National Park, says Department of Environmental Affairs regional spokesperson, Zolile Nqayi.

In 2014, the South African government endorsed a plan to achieve a viable MPA network. This would see around 10% of South African waters protected by 2020. In February 2016, 22 MPAs were proposed.

“South Africa’s ocean space, which is one of the most varied in the world, is highly productive with rich biodiversity providing living and non-living resources that contribute significantly to the country’s economy and to job creation. As we grow and intensify the ocean economy, it is essential to provide the necessary protection to a representative sample of marine ecosystems, thereby ensuring their resilience to human use and impact, and to the impacts associated with climate change,” says Hanekom.

One of the proposed MPAs is that of Robben Island. Besides the cultural and heritage value of the island, the waters around it are home to kelp forests and the coastal nests of seabirds such as the endangered African penguin, endangered bank cormorants and terns.

Two Oceans Aquarium curator, Maryke Musson, previously told People’s Post: “Robben Island is an important cultural and historical World Heritage Site and home to incredible sealife. It is in a very busy maritime area being so close to Cape Town Harbour, and is also a significant tourist destination.”

Marine Protected Areas are key to replenishing biodiversity and nourishing the growing human population, Musson says.

“A MPA is any area of the marine environment that enjoys a higher level of protection for part or all of the natural and cultural resources therein. MPAs, if managed properly, can be an effective way of protecting marine ecosystems and their associated cultural and historical heritage for future generations to experience and enjoy. A protected ecosystem tends to be more resistant and resilient to disturbances and serves as an effective insurance policy against overfishing and loss of?biodiversity.”

MPAs provide safe spaces in which fish can breed undisturbed. They are essential to maintain eco-certification of the deep-sea trawl fisheries industry. This certification process assesses whether habitat and nursery areas for the hake fishery industry are adequately protected. MPAs also contribute to growing the marine eco-tourism sector by providing undisturbed natural habitat for whales, sharks, seals, dolphins, turtles and seabirds for tourists to experience, explains Nqayi.

V Visit www.marineprotectedareas.org.za.

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