The South African government has recently proposed a network of 21 new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) aimed at increasing ocean protection from only 0.4% of South Africa’s ocean territory to 5%. While this is still a ‘drop in the ocean’ compared to what is needed to secure healthy oceans, it is a great step in the right direction and we need your help to let our decision-makers know that this is important to you.
With the growing human pressures from marine mining, energy supply, fishing, aquaculture and tourism, our oceans have never been in greater need of protection, the proposed MPAs are thus a critical aspect of ensuring protection for our marine ecosystems and their functioning in the face of these challenges. The mixture of offshore and inshore MPAs have been designed to protect vulnerable habitats and secure spawning grounds for various marine species, thereby helping to sustain fisheries and ensure long-term benefits important to food and job security.
The proposed MPA network includes charismatic marine ecosystems such as a deep fossilised yellow wood forest, a deep cold water coral reef standing up to 30m tall, undersea mountains and canyons each with unique biodiversity. It also provides protection to vulnerable island ecosystems which host more than half the world’s African Penguins. Click here for an overview of each of the proposed 21 MPAs, and what they are designed to protect.
At present, the proposed MPAs have been gazetted for public comment (download the government gazette here) and there is still an opportunity for members of the public to provide constructive comments on how these MPAs will impact on your lives, for better or for worse. The more information there is, the better the ultimate design of the MPAs and the more likely they are to achieve their purpose. If you would like to submit formal comments about the proposed MPAs, we have developed a set of commenting guidelines and tips to help you do this.If you only have 2 minutes but still want to let Government know that you are supportive of increasing our ocean’s protection, you can sign the online petition in support of MPAs here. Do it, your grandchildren will thank you.