Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area opened to recreational fishing

  • 23 December 2016 | Judy Mann, SAAMBR conservation strategist | Category: Conservation

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is mandated to implement 22 new Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in South Africa, as a part of Operation Phakisa, in order to partially meet internationally accepted norms and standards for marine biodiversity conservation.

The Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area is rich in marine biodiversity

In spite of this positive initiative to improve South Africa’s marine conservation in line with international protocols, the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) is disappointed to note that the Minister of Environmental Affairs has decided to open 20 percent of the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area (Africa’s oldest MPA) shoreline to recreational fishing, for exclusive use by members of the local community. This decision is contrary to advice given by experienced scientists from the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI), together with marine scientists from other reputable South African institutions. ORI scientists have done extensive research into the value of no-take marine protected areas, both in South Africa and along the east coast of Africa.

While SAAMBR recognises the importance of equitable access to marine resources and is supportive of the principles of sustainable use, it questions the wisdom of undermining existing formal protection in favour of recreational use by a small local community, and is concerned that this sets a dangerous precedent for other formally protected areas, both marine and terrestrial.

SAAMBR will engage with the Minister and with the DEA to try to understand the reasoning behind the decision. SAAMBR remains committed to marine conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources through wise decisions based on sound scientific advice, and will continue to strive to provide responsible government agencies with such advice.

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