/ 13 October 2008

SA looks at initiatives to protect marine life

With National Marine Week being celebrated from Monday to Friday, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has announced two initiatives aimed at protecting the country’s dwindling fish reserves.

The twentieth marine protected area of the coast will be promulgated this week around Stilbaai in the Western Cape, and a national programme of action for the protection of the marine environment from land-based activities will be launched on Wednesday in Durban.

According to Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk: ”The new Stilbaai marine protected area [MPA] is an important addition to South Africa’s network of MPAs. It will provide protection to a variety of marine and estuarine habitats, which in turn will assist in the recovery of populations of depleted fish and other endemic species.

”The declaration of a restricted zone will also allow specific protected sandy terrestrial and marine areas to join, thereby shielding the natural coastline more fully, which is important in the light of climate change and its resulting phenomena.”

The minister said that because the protected area will encompass both estuarine and marine habitats, it will provide enhanced shelter for formerly abundant but now overexploited species like kob, which use both environments

Wednesday’s launch of the national programme of action by the Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi forms part of the global programme of action launched in 1995 by the United Nations’s environmental protection organisation, which recommends that countries develop national plans to address coastal and marine degradation from key land-based activities.

South Africa is one of 108 countries that adopted it. — I-Net Bridge