The big maritime news this week is the announcement of plans to create a new 70,000km2 network of marine protected areas.
According to the press the plans include:
- expansion of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park’s sea boundaries in Kwazulu-Natal,
- a new protected area off the Thukela River,
- a new shark and fish sanctuary off the Protea Banks on the south coast and
- expansion of the Aliwal Shoal protected area.
Details of the new marine protected areas (MPAs) have been published in a 336-page notice in the government gazette by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.
Although the declaration of these new expanded MPAs should be celebrated, it is important to note that they are in response to the present situation of collapsed sea fish stocks and increasing exploitation of oceans worldwide.
Conservation group WWF’s response to the announcement has been positive, but they have cautioned that it is essential to ensure that there is adequate budget, staff and enforcement capacity to ensure the proper running of these protected areas.
Zolile Nqayi, Environment Affairs spokesman, said that the new proposed MPAs had been identified through the presidential project Operation Phakisa.