There’s no doubt that all forms of life need to be protected
and sustainably managed to ensure its perseverance.
Therefore, when it was revealed that only
0.4% of South Africa's ocean regions are currently being protected, there was
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 at
Ushaka Marine World, a coalition of organisations was launched with the aim of advancing
greater protection of South Africa’s oceans.
0.4% protection for SA oceans is just not enough
This new alliance of national and international
organisations aims to build support for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by
creating awareness of its value.
Dr Jean Harris of Wildoceans says that MPAs provide "ecosystem services, ocean risk mitigation, food security, ecotourism benefits,
moderation of climate change, and improving resilience to impacts of other
Harris adds that the coalition hopes “to gain strategic wins for marine conservation in African waters that will catalyse action across the region.”
The coalition is funded by Oceans 5, Ocean Unite, WWF-SA,
The Green Connection, Centre for Environmental Rights and the South African
Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR).
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Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) Deputy Director General Judy
Beaumont says that the DEA supports the coalition.
appreciate any work being done that profiles the many social, economic and
environmental benefits of a dynamic and relevant MPA network. This
communication is key to bridging the gaps between government departments, as
well as civil society and conservation entities,” says Beaumont.
‘Only This Much’
According to the new coalition's #OnlyThisMuch campaign,
we need to protect at least 30% of our oceans for long-term sustainable use.
The campaign has a goal of achieving 5% protection of South
Africa’s oceans within MPAs by 2019, and 10% by 2020.
Lauren van Nijkerk says that the aim is to get African states to support a global target of 30% protection by
2030. Click here to join the campaign online.
Beaumont says that “The drive to achieve a 10% (and more) MPA target aligns
with South Africa’s National Development Plan outcomes and international
commitments. We are all connected to the ocean in some way and therefore all
have a responsibility to protect and preserve our oceans for future generations.”
At the launch of the Only This Much campaign,
aquarium displays were covered up with black cloth and revealed to illustrate
the limited ocean protection we currently have in South Africa, and
what the potential of the ocean is if that protection is expanded.
A global challenge
Alex Benkenstein of SAIIA,
says that the fact that ocean protection is part of the Sustainable Development
Goals highlights the global nature of the challenges and opportunities related to the ocean.
“For this reason,
our Institute seeks to promote cooperative responses towards developing a truly
sustainable Blue Economy, and a strong MPA network, both within South Africa
and beyond our borders, is an essential component of that,” says Benkenstein.
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John Duncan, Senior
Manager of the Marine Programme at WWF SA says that healthy oceans support an
ocean economy, and therefore “We urgently need to scale up our MPA network to
secure the underlying marine ecosystems which underpin economically and ecologically
Mann, Conservation Strategist at SAAMBR, adds that only by working together
will we be able to address the challenges facing our oceans.
Saul Roux, Legal Campaigner at
the Centre for Environmental Rights, says that MPAs will safeguard our natural
heritage and the ecosystems that support marine economy.
“More than two years ago the
Minister of Environmental Affairs published notices and regulations, for public
comment; for an ecologically representative network of 22 marine protected
areas. These should be declared as a matter of urgency,” says Roux.
“This will ensure South Africa is
on track to meet our international obligations and will contribute to the
realisation of our Constitutional right to have the environment protected for
the benefit of present and future generations.”
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Green Connections’ Liz McDaid says that the organisation is
part of the campaign to ensure that oceans are protected to provide livelihoods
for future generations. “We support at least 30% MPA goal – and all of South
Africa’s affected stakeholders must be involved in such decisions,” adds
Managing Director of Ocean Unite, adds that “Marine Reserves are the insurance
policies we need to buy for our Ocean planet” to help build resilience to
climate change, bring back marine life, secure food, water, and air
supplies, and provide job security.
that SA’s President and Cabinet must meet to exceed South Africa’s
international commitments to protect at least 10% of waters by 2020, to
safeguard marine life for the benefit of all South Africans.
How to start 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.