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Mon Dec 05 14:29:08 SAST 2016

Draft regulations to declare network of marine protected areas

TMG Digital | 2016-02-09 17:39:02.0

Image by: isimangaliso bay

Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa has published draft notices and regulations in the Government Gazette to declare a network of 22 new proposed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as part of the Operation Phakisa Initiative.

“The declaration of these new MPAs aims to create approximately 70‚000km2 of marine protected areas‚ bringing our ocean protection within the South African Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to more than 5%‚” Molewa said on Tuesday.

The following are proposed for declaration as marine protected areas:

  • iSimangaliso Wetland Park‚
  • Aliwal Shoal‚ Agulhas Front‚
  • Cape Canyon‚
  • Childs Bank‚
  • Protea Banks‚
  • Browns Bank Complex‚
  • Benguela Bank‚
  • Browns Bank Corals‚ Namaqua Fossil Forest‚
  • Namaqua National Park‚
  • Robben Island‚
  • Agulhas Bank Complex‚
  • Agulhas Muds‚
  • Amathole Offshore‚
  • Benguela Muds‚
  • Port Elizabeth Corals‚
  • Addo Elephant Park‚
  • Southeast Atlantic Seamount‚
  • Southwest Indian Seamount‚
  • uThukela Banks and
  • Orange Shelf Edge.

The new MPAs were identified through Operation Phakisa‚ a presidential project to fast-track the development of South Africa’s Ocean Economy.

“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.”

The new MPAs will secure protection of marine habitats like reefs‚ mangroves and coastal wetlands which are required to help protect coastal communities from the results of storm surges‚ rising sea-levels and extreme weather. Offshore‚ these MPAs will protect vulnerable habitats and secure spawning grounds for various marine species‚ therefore helping to sustain fisheries and ensure long-term benefits important to food and job security.

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