New South African Marine Protected Areas out for comment

New South African Marine Protected Areas out for comment - Southern Africa : The Minister of Environmental Affairs has published (on 3 February 2016) the draft notices and regulations to declare a network of 22 new proposed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This will create 70 000 km2 of marine protected areas, bringing to 5% the oc

The Minister of Environmental Affairs has published (on 3 February 2016) the draft notices and regulations to declare a network of 22 new proposed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This will create 70 000 km2 of marine protected areas, bringing to 5% the ocean protected within our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Identified through Operation Phakisa, a presidential project to fast-track the development of South Africa's Ocean Economy, MPAs are increasingly being used as a tool for the achievement of biodiversity, fisheries management, tourism and research objectives. Currently, less than 0.5% of our South African ocean is formally protected (vs 8% of terrestrial areas).

The focus of the new MPAs is to protect offshore ecosystems and species - from deep areas along the Namibian border to a tenfold expansion of iSimangaliso Wetland Park (KZN). They include a fossilised yellow wood forest (-120m off Port Nolloth), a deep cold-water coral reef (-30m near PE), and the Protea Banks (a world-famous diving destination boasting a 7-species shark aggregation in KZN), as well as undersea mountains, canyons, sandy plains, deep and shallow muds, and diverse gravel habitats.

The MPAs will include reefs, mangroves and coastal wetlands, These protect coastal communities from storm surges, rising sea-levels and extreme weather. Offshore, these will protect vulnerable habitats, secure nursery, spawning and migration grounds, thus sustaining fisheries and ensuring long-term food and job security benefits.

The draft regulations aim to accelerate the implementation and management of ecologically and biologically significant areas, as well as benefitting threatened seabirds, fish and turtles.

You are invited to submit written comments on the proposed MPAs by the end of April. Enquiries to Mr. Xola Mkefe at (021) 819 2644.

For a list of the proposed declarations, and maps of the marine protected areas, or more information, please visit the DEA website.
Details here: https://www.environment.gov.za/https://api.ispotnature.org/storage/app/sites/default/files/gazetted_notices/nempaa57of2003_draftregulations_newproposedmarineprotectedarea1_gg39646.pdf

24 Feb 2016
Tony Rebelo