While terrestrial protected areas are well-known in South Africa, the same cannot be said for their marine counterparts.
A Marine Protected Area is an area of coastline, or ocean, that is specially protected for the benefit of people and nature.
They are places where marine life can thrive, reproduce and grow.
In a recent survey, only 10 percent of visitors to uShaka Sea World could name one of South Africa’s MPAs.
It was for this reason that SAAMBR decided to create a new exhibition within the aquarium at uShaka Marine World, showcasing Marine Protected Areas.
This exhibit will help visitors to learn more about and understand these valuable areas in need of our protection.
Currently only 0.4 percent of South Africa’s ocean territory is protected.
In KZN, the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area and the iSimangaliso Marine Protected Area protect critical biodiversity along the shore, but, offshore, we have no areas of the ocean protected.
This means that critical habitats, such as canyons and corals that are hundreds of years old, endemic fish found nowhere else in the world and unique gathering places for sharks, among other unique features, are currently vulnerable to fishing and mining pressures.
The new MPAs will help to protect the unique offshore natural assets of KZN and South Africa.
SAAMBR CEO, Dr Larry Oellermann is passionate about the critical role that MPAs play in conserving the ocean heritage.
“MPAs are one of the best ways we have to protect the marine environment. An environment that must be protected if we are to continue to gain from the benefits it provides,” he said.
SAAMBR, through the work of the Oceanographic Research Institute, is proud to have been a partner in many of the research initiatives that have helped to uncover these exciting new ecosystems and the life they contain.
For more information, contact Ann Kunz on 031 328-8152 or 083-392-4147.