WATCH: Marine protected area in iSimangaliso Wetland Park flourishes
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Durban - The countless hours of hard work and dedication put into conservation areas by the team from the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (Saambr) have paid off.
Saambr has posted a video online showing its marine protected area (MPA) in iSimangaliso Wetland Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal flourishing with different fish species.
The video was shot during a Saambr fish-tagging trip.
“Fish of this diversity and abundance are seldom seen outside protected areas. It just goes to show that MPAs really do work – protecting fish, supporting people and ultimately taking care of our planet,” Saambr said in a statement on Wednesday.
There are five MPAs spread along the KZN coastline, all with the sole purpose of ensuring continuation of the endangered and different fish species.
There are also MPAs spread along South Africa’s coastline which stretch from the northernmost part of KZN, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, all the way around the Cape of Good hope until the Namaqua Fossil Forest in the Western Cape.
“They also help protect the places where marine animals breed and grow up. For example, our estuaries are critical nursery habitats for many prawn and fish we like to eat. No healthy nurseries for the little fish, no big fish to eat,” Saambr explained.
The Saambr team have also seen immense success with their tagging initiative, which tracks the movements and growth of various species within the designated MPAs.
The latest fish-monitoring field trip, which was conducted in Pondoland in February this year, showed that the MPAs have a higher number of fish species as compared with the exploited areas along the coast.
“Fishing in the exploited area was slower and only 66 fish (40%) were caught, amounting to 7.33 fish caught per angler per hour. This was after the same amount of fishing effort in both areas in two successive days of fishing with very similar weather conditions,” Saambr said.
According to team leader Dr Bruce Mann, since the MPA evaluation in April 2006, the team has used multiple methods to successfully monitor the area, including tag-recapture, underwater visual census, baited remote underwater video and monitoring movements of fish tagged with acoustic transmitters.
“From this research, it is very clear that the no-take area in the Pondoland MPA is providing an important refuge for many overexploited fish species,” Mann said.
African News Agency (ANA)