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20 new MPAs officially announced
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20 new MPAs officially announced

DEA officially declares 20 marine protected areas

SOUTH AFRICA: Last week, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) officially declared the new network of 20 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) off the coastline.

According to the DEA, the Declaration of these 20 network of MPAs is like an insurance policy for the benefit of both the current and future generations. The network of MPAs will increase the spatial protection of South Africa’s ocean environment from the current 0.4% to 5.4%, provide at least some protection to 90% of habitat types, as well as contribute to global protection in line with South Africa’s commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity, a sister Convention to those on Climate Change and Sustainable Development.

Environmental management and the application of appropriate conservation and sustainable use measures and ensuring sustainable development is therefore a requirement for socio-economic well-being of South African citizens dependent on these marine resources. It is therefore Government policy that conservation and sustainable use measures should, where ever possible, contribute to achieving social objectives including but not limited to poverty alleviation, food security or equality.

The DEA is committed to achieving the following objectives after this Declaration:

  • Ensure marine conservation and sustainable use is integral to marine management and decision making.
  • Ensure successful conservation outcomes by managing development pressures and ensure conservation objectives in these MPAs are met.

These new MPAs network is the product of extensive consultation and negotiation with all stakeholders, which sought to ensure that the network is aligned with relevant policies and priorities for fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, as well as marine mining and oil exploration, while also protecting ecologically important areas.

The department is fully aware of the considerable commitment required to effectively manage the new MPAs, and this has been part of the process from the outset. In this regard, a number of state conservation agencies contributed to stakeholder engagements and also advised, on the basis of their local insight, on the suitability of the management measures for each MPA. In keeping with this process, and the provisions of the Protected Areas Act (Section 38 (4), those MPAs with a coastal boundary will be managed by the adjacent management agencies of SANParks, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, the Provincial Agency of KwaZulu-Natal and the Provincial Agency of the Eastern Cape, as appropriate.

For those MPAs which lie further offshore, the department will avail itself of its new surveillance capabilities as well as co-operative compliance programmes with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

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