The inaugural Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Day, held on 1 August 2021, was a major success with the national event now set to go global in 2022. Everyone is welcome to celebrate these ‘game reserves of the sea’ with a number of exciting activities planned at home and abroad.
Lamberts Bay, West Coast – Image credit : Judy Mann
“We are very excited about this year’s MPA Day which will be celebrated across the world,” said Dr Judy Mann, Executive of Strategic Projects of the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation. “We have new partners to join our incredible team, and we hope to make MPA Day even more accessible to its global supporters. A few other countries will be joining us as we work towards our dream of making MPA Day a truly international celebration. We look forward to MPA Day 2022 and encourage everyone to join us.”
Langebaan – Image credit : Judy Mann
How can you celebrate MPA Day 2022?
This year, marine scientists will join youth groups onshore to explore South Africa’s MPAs. There will be an MPA Day Essay and Art Competition for children run by the Youth4MPAs collective. There’s also the popular MPA Day Photo Competition with new categories for amateur and professional photographers with even bigger prizes. At 7pm on Monday, 1 August the MPA Alliance will host a special webinar with five leading South African marine scientists to share the latest research on MPAs. This year will also see the launch of the Citizen Science initiative.
- Start a conversation about MPAs using the hashtags #MPADay #LetsTalkMPAs #MPA #MarineProtectedArea and share what you know with others.
- Learn about the wealth of diverse and beautiful ocean creatures, plants and habitats within South Africa’s MPAs and how protecting these ecosystems can help people.
- Visit one of the country’s incredible MPA areas and discover the wonders in person.
- For the anglers, it’s important to respect the boundaries of MPAs and teach fellow anglers about the importance of MPAs. Anglers can get more information here – For Anglers | SAAMBR
- Visit MPA Day — Marine Protected Areas South Africa for more information about our MPAs and MPA Day.
- Follow the MPA Day social media channels to learn more about the competitions and events.
Puffadder shy shark – Image credit: Mark van Coller
Why are MPAs important?
South Africa has 41 MPAs which make up only 5.4% of the ocean and coast. In the same way that nature and game reserves protect the terrestrial plants and animals, MPAs serve to protect the ocean’s inhabitants, several which are threatened with extinction. MPAs play a significant role in the protection of spawning and nursery areas that allow for resource recovery to counteract rampant overfishing. They provide safe havens for marine life to thrive, maturing into adulthood.
Some of the other benefits of these valuable ocean areas include:
- Providing a home to rare and endangered species thereby ensuring marine biodiversity.
- Allowing fish stocks to increase in size and abundance, supporting adjacent fisheries.
- Protecting cultural heritage connected to the ocean.
- Providing beautiful spaces for recreational activities, thereby promoting tourism.
- Providing educational centres for environmental learning.
- Providing a solid foundation for researching the natural world.
- Absorbing enormous amounts of carbon dioxide helping to create a buffer against climate change.
- Creating a marine wildlife economy for sustainable job creation.
White shark breach – Image credit: Morne Hardenberg
The partners involved in the MPA Day Alliance are the SAAMBR, Two Oceans Aquarium, Flow Communications, Olivia Jones Communications and WildOceans (a programme of WildTrust). This year, the Alliance welcomes WWF South Africa and WWF-SASSI.
Join in the discussions around MPAs on Instagram @marineprotectedareassa, Twitter @MPAsSA1 or Facebook Marine Protected Areas SA (@MPASouthAfrica). For more information about South Africa’s MPAs, visit https://www.marineprotectedareas.org.za/