The Addo Elephant National Park MPA. Picture: Supplied/ Ané Oosthuizen

Johannesburg - Three new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) within South African National Parks (SANParks) reserves have been gazetted by the environmental affairs department (DEA).

The Addo Elephant National Park MPA, Robben Island MPA (to be managed by Table Mountain National Park), and the Namaqua National Park MPA form part of 20 new national MPAs gazetted on May 23, SANParks said in a statement on Sunday.

This declaration was the culmination of many years of work by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), SANParks, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, and the DEA. These MPAs would come into effect on August 1 this year.

SANParks national marine coordinator Dr Ané Oosthuizen said this new network of MPAs increased the conservation footprint of South Africa’s oceans from 0.43 to five percent, and was a major achievement for conservation.

“The new MPAs will contribute to the conservation of our oceans, islands, and coastal habitats, protect threatened species, such as penguins, and rebuild over exploited species, such as linefish, abalone, and rocklobster. They will help secure ecosystem services, support recreational, tourism, and educational activities, as well as subsistence, recreational, and commercial fishing. MPAs help keep ecosystems resilient in the face of climate change,” Oosthuizen said.

Planning towards some of these MPAs started as far back as in 2006, such as the Addo Elephant National Park MPA, by SANParks and the SANBI offshore MPA project. Hundreds of planning and stakeholder meetings and negotiations with communities and industries, such as oil and gas, mining, fisheries, and aquaculture, took place. Planners and lawyers spent five years developing the shape, size, and regulations for these MPAs with many compromises on all sides, Oosthuizen said.

African News Agency (ANA)