FOR OUR FUTURE
Positioned on the tip of the continent, South Africa enjoys a long and diverse coastline. Facing both the Indian and the Atlantic oceans, we enjoy a plethora of marine life and border some unique eco-systems that are created by the mixed currents of hot and cold sea waters.
This gives us and our visitors an abundance of fisheries and marine life, a source for visual and gastronomic pleasure.
In order to sustain this natural wealth for years to come, the Department of Environmental Affairs is in the process of declaring new Marine Protected Areas (MAPs) all around our coastline. These are to become our Ocean National Parks, aiming to protect our ocean heritage for future generations and support ¬ fisheries sustainability, risk management, adaptation to climate change and tourism.
MPAs are so much more than ocean National Parks because of their role in ¬ fisheries sustainability. The returns on having well designed and properly run MPAs can be measured in their economic, environmental and social benefits. MPAs help meet our Ocean Economy and Sustainable Development Goals, safeguarding marine environments and services provided by healthy oceans including food, climate resilience and medicines.
MPAs support fisheries sustainability by protecting breeding and nursery areas, providing areas for resources to recover from overuse and through spillover or flow of benefits to adjacent areas. In an increasingly industrialised ocean, MPAs help maintain food and job security in the fisheries sector.
Many of our fish stocks are severely exploited after years of heavy fishing. MPAs allow ecosystems, animals and plants living in them to recover, providing safe spaces in which fish can breed undisturbed, protecting spawning and nursery areas.
BIGGER, BETTER, AND MORE ABUNDANT
In many fish species, the older and bigger females get, the more fertile and productive they become. When fish are allowed to mature undisturbed, the returns increase exponentially as their number of offspring increases. Young fish move outside the no-take area into exploited areas. This flow of benefits is known as the “spillover effect” where fish populations build up inside the MPA, restocking fishing grounds.
STREAMLINING DECISION MAKING TO UNLOCK THE OCEAN ECONOMY
MPAs can help streamline environmental authorisations and represent a practical solution for managing ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs). By setting aside areas of representative ecosystem types, other areas can be freed up for development.
BIO-DISCOVERY AND BENEFITS FOR THE BIO-ECONOMY
Marine species may produce medicines and other compounds are yet to be discovered. This provides untapped possibilities for the bio-economy. One of our South African seaslug species, Leminda Millecra, produces a compound that fights oesophageal cancer.
COPING WITH CLIMATE CHANGE
MPAs help maintain resilience in ecosystems under stress from climate change. In ecosystems it contributes to resilience for people living in coastal communities. Healthy shorelines protect and buffer coastal communities and infrastructure from extreme weather, tsunamis and sea-level rise. Protection of healthy shorelines now yields future benefits and safeguards their social and economic wellbeing.
BENCHMARK TO MEASURE CHANGE
MPAs help us understand what a healthy ecosystem should look like. We can use this information to measure change in unprotected areas. These baselines help measure the impacts of climate change, invasive alien species, pressure from fishing, mining and other activities outside the MPA.
MPAS INCREASE TOURISM REVENUE
MPAs attract local and international tourists. The estimated value of South African marine ecotourism is at least R2,130 billion in overall value to the economy. The Simonstown African penguin colony and Sodwana Bay coral reefs attract thousands of visitors every day. Our oceans have species that occur nowhere else on earth.
Image – Caption…. South Africa’s seascapes include beautiful coasts, reefs, underwater forests, important cultural and historic sites and even sub-marine canyons home to ‘Pre-historic’ coelacanths (Credi- Peter Timm, Triton Dive Lodge)
JOB CREATION & SUPPLEMENTARY LIVELIHOODS
MPAs can provide important alternative sources of income and livelihoods for many people. Jobs associated with the marine wildlife economy, such as tour guiding, scuba and shark cage diving, turtle, bird and whale watching are all possible close to protected areas. Communities can benefit from the opportunities from tourists, allowing for entrepreneurial enterprises and jobs linked directly to MPAs, including tour guides, rangers, park managers, gate, hospitality and maintenance staff and in-house educators.
Image: Rangers doing monitoring work in the Aliwal Shoal MPA
Right: Officer in the Trafalgar MPA
PRESERVATION OF CULTURE AND HISTORY
Sites of historic significance (such as shipwrecks) and other of archaeological and historical interest, diversify tourism opportunities and development.
Image: The sea is a place of cleansing and spiritual renewal for many South Africans. A powerful spiritual connection to our ocean enhances our lives and sustains us emotionally. (Credit: Kerry Sink).
INCREASING OCEAN PROTECTION
South Africa is in the process of declaring several new MPAs to advance ocean protection around the country. These new MPAs will:
- Protect offshore ecosystems for the first time, some of these contain Critically Endangered habitats and species.
- Help overexploited species to recover and improve fishery yields.
- Manage Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs), Sensitive habitats such as coral and sponge grounds and Essential Fish Habitats.
- Improve protection of well-known animals such as whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and seabirds to ensure their survival.
- Streamline environmental decision making, support ocean economy and contribute to Sustainable Development Goals.
FUTURE FRIENDLY OCEAN MANAGEMENT
MPAs provide opportunities for future generations by supporting sustainable development and ensuring the ocean continues to provide benefits. Our children need us to protect our oceans.
June 28, 2020
April 20, 2020
March 25, 2020