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Marine Protected Areas

Three new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) within South African National Parks (SANParks) were gazetted by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) on 23 May 2019.

The Addo Elephant National Park MPA, Namaqua National Park MPA and Robben Island MPA (to be managed by Table Mountain National Park) form part of 20 new national MPAs. This declaration was the culmination of many years of work by South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), SANParks, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the DFFE. The MPAs come into effect on 1 August 2019.

This new network of MPAs increase the conservation footprint of South Africa’s oceans from 0.43 to five percent and is a major achievement for conservation. The new MPAs will contribute to the conservation of our oceans, islands and coastal habitats, protect threatened species such as penguins and rebuild overexploited species such as linefish, abalone and rocklobster. They will help secure ecosystem services, support recreational, tourism and educational activities, as well as subsistence, recreational and commercial fishing. MPAs help keep ecosystems resilient in the face of climate change.

The planning towards some of these MPAs started as far back as in 2006, such as the Addo Elephant National Park MPA, by SANParks and the SANBI Offshore MPA project. Hundreds of planning and stakeholder meetings and negotiations with communities and industries such as oil and gas, mining, fisheries, and aquaculture took place. Planners and lawyers spent five years developing the shape, size and regulations for these MPAs with many compromises on all sides.

What is a Marine Protected Area?

A Marine Protected Area (MPA) is an area of coastline or ocean this is specifically protected for the benefit of people and nature.

These areas help manage part of the marine environment to rebuild fisheries populations, keep marine ecosystems working properly and protect the range of species living there, helping people to benefit from the ocean. MPAs are divided into controlled and restricted zones to allow for both protection and use of resources.

There are regulations that pertain to MPAs. Please ensure that you familiarise yourself with said regulations and that you are in possession of relevant permits if you plan to undertake any activities in the MPAs that may require it.

SANParks does not issue permits under the Marine Living Resources Act. Entry is at own risk and subject to the conditions of the Protected Areas Act.

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