The Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa has invited the public to comment on a proposal to declare a network of 22 new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in South Africa.
These MPAs would be declared as part of the Operation Phakisa Initiative, Molewa stated in the Government Gazette on Wednesday, 3 February 2016.
In reference to the 22 newly proposed MPA’s Edna Molewa stated that, “The declaration of these new MPAs aims to create approximately 70 000 km2 of marine protected areas, bringing our ocean protection within the South African Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to more than 5%”.
At present, less than 0.5% of South Africa’s ocean ecosystems are formally protected, compared to approximately 8% of terrestrial protected areas such as the Kruger National Park and Table Mountain National Park.
Many of these new MPAs aim to protect offshore ecosystems and species, ranging from deep areas along the Namibian border to a more than tenfold expansion of iSimangaliso Wetland Park in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
They include charismatic features, such as, fossilised yellow wood forest at a depth of 120m off Port Nolloth, a deep cold-water coral reef standing 30m high off the seabed near Port Elizabeth and a world famous diving destination where seven shark species aggregate, at Protea Banks in KwaZulu-Natal.
These MPAs also include undersea mountains, canyons, sandy plains, deep and shallow muds and diverse gravel habitats with unique fauna.
To view the full list of new Marine Protected Areas, click here