Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a critical tool in the ocean protection toolbox, playing a vital role in maintaining biological diversity and ecosystem functioning by controlling harmful activities in sensitive habitats and by preserving representative areas from unsustainable human development.
South Africa needs to join the global community and contribute its lions share towards the global target of 30% by 2030.
South Africa is signatory to the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD) target to achieve 10% by 2020. Although 2020 is over, the need for ocean protection remains central. Over-fishing, damaging industrial activities, habitat destruction, climate change and pollution are not letting up and by not protecting our oceans ability to keep giving what we take, we risk a biodiversity crisis, ocean collapse and a subsequent economic catastrophe. Science tells us that we are facing widespread ecosystem collapse starting as early as 2030.
We must make a shift from what needs to be done, which science has made clear, to how it can be done. Our oceans need us to take this step.
Help us get to 100 000 names and voices for 10%.
Call on our decision-makers, particularly Minister Creecy of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, to protect South Africa’s oceans and announce 10% ocean protection this year.
On the 24th of May 2018, 20 new and expanded Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were announced by South Africa’s cabinet, and in October 2018 were officially gazetted, increasing protection from 0.4% to 5%.
Globally, developing countries are achieving a minimum target of 10%, and we should continue to strive for this as a minimum target to protect our beautiful country and reduce the risk of falling behind
If the economic success of our country matters to you, then environmental protection should too.
Without environmental protection there is no economic recovery – the two work hand in hand. Here are a few facts to prove it:
The combined economic benefits from coastal resources are estimated to be around 35% of South Africa’s annual GDP.
In Africa, the fishing and marine food sector employ more than 12 million people, the largest of the Blue Economy recognized sectors across the continent.
Fisheries play an important role in meeting food security needs and providing livelihoods for more than 100 000 people in South Africa.
Africa has the largest blue economy sector, providing food security and nutrition for over 200 million Africans.
In 2014, it was estimated that 312 000 tonnes of seafood was eaten in South Africa annually.
Goukamma MPA – This linefish refuge allows populations to recover and benefits neighbouring waters with “spillover” fish. This results in more and bigger fish being caught in the open areas near to the MPA. For example, a study found that the catch of endemic seabream in the Goukamma MPA and adjacent areas effectively doubled its pre-MPA values in just 10 years.
In 2006, the economic value of linefish exports from MPAs in the Garden route (Goukamma, Robberg and Tstisikamma MPAs) was valued at R33 million per year.
In 2006, the combined recreational value of the Goukamma, Robberg & Tsitsikamma MPA was valued at R10 million per year.
Penguin Tourism at Boulders in Cape Town was estimated to contribute ~R14.5 million in 2010. The current total value of the colony is estimated to be R28 million.
Diving at iSimangaliso was valued at over R75 million and estimated to contribute more than R12 million at Aliwal Shoal.
Biodiversity forms the backbone of ecological resilience and resilience refers to the capacity of a system to respond and recover from a disturbance, and to return to a state of equilibrium. Resilience provides structure and environmental stability around which socioeconomic development occurs.
ISimangaliso MPA (North Coast, KwaZulu-Natal) Safeguards feeding areas of the critically endangered leatherback turtles; Protects submarine canyons, refuges for coelacanths; Protects slinger and rockcod aggregations to deliver fisheries benefits.
MPAs protect habitats (like mangroves, coral reefs, salt marshes and seagrass) that provide a buffer against the impacts of climate change and a level of insurance against natural disasters, additionally strategically placed MPAs defend coastal property and infrastructure from the impacts of natural disasters.
uThukela MPA protects endangered mud habitats and species that depend on the inflow of water from uThukela, South Africa’s second largest river.
The Walker Bay MPA protects rocky and sandy shore habitats and kelp forests immediately offshore that provide refuge for overexploited abalone and west coast rock lobster.
The OCEAN IMPACT campaign is underwriting a 3-year project driving advanced protection of South Africa’s oceans within Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Launched in 2018 by WILDOCEANS (a programme of the WILDTRUST www.wildtrust.co.za/wildoceans) supported by Oceans 5 in partnership with Ocean Unite, the OCEAN IMPACT campaign hopes to support the establishment of 10% MPAS in South Africa’s waters and to pave the way for African states to support a global target of 30% strongly protected by 2030.
This is not an opportunity, but rather an urgent need, to build back better harmony with nature.
One could liken the ocean to someone fighting off Covid-19. If you have pre-existing conditions the likelihood that you are going to fight the disease is slim, however if you are healthy the chances are high that you will fight off the disease. The ocean, if healthy, resilient, and sufficiently protected, will be able to fight off anything we throw at it and continue to give us everything we need and take from it.