In October, South Africa commemorates National Marine Month,
which creates awareness about the country’s marine and coastal environments and the benefi ts of the oceans.
South Africa’s oceans hold vital importance for our country’s economy and food security. Protecting the health of our marine life is therefore a top priority.
Government has been on a renewed drive to conserve our oceans, with the establishment of new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
In May 2019, government offi cially gazetted the establishment of 20 new MPAs around our 2 850 km coastline.
This brought the total number of MPAs in South Africa to 41, increasing the percentage of our protected marine ecosystems from 0.4 percent to 5.4 percent.
In an era of overfi shing and climate change, the resources of the world’s oceans are under increasing pressure.
MPAs are crucial for alleviating this pressure and ensuring the sustainability of our marine environments.
These areas have strict rules in place to restrict fi shing and other human impacts, creating safe spaces for fi sh and other marine life to breed and flourish.
Work on approving 20 new MPAs dates back to 2014, when, under government’s Operation Phakisa: Protecting our precious
Oceans Economy programme, a plan was endorsed to establish a viable network of MPAs. After years of consultation with various communities
Protecting our precious and conservation authorities, the MPA network was gazetted in May, and offi cially came into effect on 1 August 2019.
“South Africa’s ocean space, which is one of the most varied in the world, is highly productive,
with rich biodiversity providing for living and non-living resources that contribute signifi cantly to the country’s economy
and to job creation,” said then Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane at the time of gazetting.
The benefi ts of MPAs Dr Kerry Sink has been involved in marine protection since 2005,
and currently works as the Marine Programme Manager for the South African National Biodiversity
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