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Minister Edna Molewa publishes draft notices and regulations to declare a network of 22 new proposed Marine Protected Areas

09 February 2016

 

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, has published (03 February 2016) in the Government Gazette no. 39646, draft notices and regulations 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 70 000 km2 of marine protected areas, bringing our ocean protection within the South African Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to more than 5%.

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. MPAs are increasingly being used as a tool for the achievement of biodiversity, fisheries management, tourism and research objectives. At present, less than 0.5% of South Africa’s ocean ecosystems are formally protected as compared to approximately 8% of terrestrial protected areas such as the Kruger National Park and Table Mountain National Park.

This network will represent the full spectrum of biodiversity, secure ocean benefits and provide important reference areas to understand and manage change in our oceans.

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.

The draft regulations are aimed at accelerating the implementation of management for ecologically and biological significant areas. Species that stand to be protected include threatened seabirds, fish and turtles through protection of their feeding areas, nursery and spawning grounds as well as key migration areas.

To access gazette and related documents, click on the link below:

>> National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003 (Act No. 57 of 2003): Draft notices and Regulations to declare a network of 22 new proposed Marine Protected Areas.

Members of the public are invited to submit written representations or comments in connection with the proposed declaration and regulations to the following address within 90 days from the date of publication in the Government Gazette.

By post to:

The Deputy Director-General: Department of Environmental Affairs
Branch: Oceans and Coasts
P.O. Box 52126
V&A Waterfront,
Cape Town, 8002

By hand at:

Department of Environmental Affairs,
Branch: Oceans and Coasts
East Pier Building 2
East Pier Road
V&A Waterfront,
Cape Town.

By email:MPARegs@environment.gov.za

Any enquires in connection with the proposed declarations can be directed to Mr. Xola Mkefe at (021) 819 2644.

Comments received after the closing date may not be considered.

For media enquiries, contact:

Zolile Nqayi
Cell: 082 898 6483