This campaign is aimed at increasing ocean protection in SA to 10% - how you can contribute

2019-03-19 06:30 - Selene Brophy
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Ready to save our oceans? Here's how you can get involved - name the next big campaign by WILDOCEANS to increase South Africa's ocean protection to 10% in 2020.

This is the second phase of the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) expansion project, coming hot off the announcement last year where the government increases ocean protection up to 5%.

READ: Could the world's oceans get bluer? Scientists say they will and that's bad news

Let Ruth Mthembu, the marketing manager from WILDOCEANS, tell you more about it.

“With the campaign and project shifting into its second phase with new objectives and ideas, we need a change, and this is where YOU come in. We want you to help us come up with a name for the new campaign!" says Mthembu.

"We need a name that is upbeat and positive, short, punchy and inspirational, promotes the value of our oceans, profiles MPAs as our heritage - our legacy for tomorrow, and highlights why we need 10% - and ultimately 30% protection by 2030 for our oceans.

"We know it is a big ask – but believe there are hundreds of passionate creative ocean advocates out there that can assist us with this new, exciting step."

To join, visit the @onlythismuchSA or WILDOCEANSSA social media pages, find the 'Name The Campaign' post and comment with your ideas.

SEE: Two Oceans Aquarium now free for locals on their birthday

Wins for ocean protection in other parts of the world

One place that is doing the most for ocean conservation in the world right now is British overseas territory Ascension Island in the southern Atlantic Ocean. According to UN Environment, the island is declaring a marine protected area twice the size of the UK, where fishing bans will protect green turtles, swordfish, sharks, tuna, marlin, frigatebirds and terns.

This move was hailed by our favourite ocean patron Lewis Pugh, who used to visit the island in his youth.

“I'm delighted to hear that the UK has heeded our call to fully protect the waters around Ascension Island, a jewel in the Atlantic Ocean. Protecting 30% of the world's oceans need not be a dream."

At the moment, only 7.6% of the world's oceans are protected.

WATCHIt will take Lewis Pugh 50 days to swim the English Channel to promote ocean conservation

From 0.4% to 5% in 2018

In 2018 there was a global celebration as South Africa approved 20 new and expanded Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), bringing the total protection of the oceans around South Africa up to 5% (from 0.4%).

This was a massive win for marine conservation in African waters, congratulated by the Department of Environmental Affairs for the bold action, initially spearheaded by the late Minister Edna Molewa, to declare a network of 22 new/expanded MPAs covering at least 5% of the nation’s mainland.

READ: #SAHeritage: Dive into the Algoa Bay Hope Spot

“We congratulate President Ramaphosa and his government for taking this bold step to underwrite the health of our oceans. It is a tribute to the visionary leadership of the late Minister Edna Molewa and her team who have worked so hard to achieve this important outcome,” said Dr Jean Harris of WILDOCEANS.

In June last year, it was revealed that only 0.4% of South Africa's ocean regions were being protected, with great cause for concern. Following a World Oceans Day event hosted by WILDOCEANS and the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) on 8 June 2018 at uShaka Marine World, a coalition of organisations was launched with the aim of advancing greater protection of South Africa’s oceans.

SEE: #WorldOceanDay: 0.4% protection for SA oceans is just not enough

South Africa is on track to meet its international obligation to protect 10% by 2020, and the scientifically recommended 30% by 2030. 

"Critically, it will safeguard marine resources for the benefit of all South Africans," said Harris.

SEE: National Marine Week: What South Africans are doing to celebrate and protect our oceans

What is a marine protected area (MPA), and should we care about the ones in South Africa?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an MPA is, “a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.”

MPAs are key tools in an integrated ocean management toolbox required to address the multi-faceted and complex challenges facing our oceans, and to build long-term social, ecological and economic resilience, says Wild Oceans 

"They are important means of reducing ocean risk from human impacts and providing long-term insurance against short-term threats. They provide refuges for threatened species, allow damaged ecosystems to recover and help rebuild collapsed fish stocks. They offer direct economic and social benefits to people, as well as climate mitigation services."

South Africa initially only had 19 MPAs, divided into three kinds of zones:

  • Restricted: These are 'no-take' areas where any harvesting of marine life is prohibited.
  • Controlled: These are certain areas where you are allowed to fish and take from the ocean, but only with a valid permit that has certain restrictions on it.
  • Mixed: These areas have both restricted and controlled sections, which normally makes concessions to nearby communities.

READ: Getting fishy: What you should know about SA's original 19 marine protected areas

How to keep protecting our oceans?

  • Join the “Only This Much” campaign and spread awareness.
  • Make ethical and sustainable seafood choices - follow WWF SASSI to check.
  • Stop buying and using plastic products. Reuse old plastic bags when shopping and invest in reusable straws.
  • Don't buy items that exploit marine life.
  • Get involved in a beach clean-up, and pick up litter whenever you see any along the coast. Read here for more information.
  • Visit Aquariums to increase your love and knowledge of marine life.

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