Coast KZN

23 Aug 2021

Marine Protected Areas Day continues to raise awareness

(South Coast Herald) Picture: Morne Hardenberg. A sevengill shark visiting an MPA.

Africa celebrated its first ever Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) Day on August 1, which gained a whole lot of recognition at the time, and is continuing to spark interest across the nation to date. The day was celebrated with a variety of events organised by an alliance of ocean-conservation partners who showed how MPA Day highlighted the value of these unique areas, including the famous Aliwal Shoal here on the mid-South Coast, not only to the ecosystem but to the surrounding communities as well.

Marine life thrives at one of South Africa’s MPAs. Photo: Alison Kock.

South Africa has a total of 41 MPAs which makes up 5.4% of the ocean and coast around the country. MPAs are supported by many people, primarily because they protect the ocean’s inhabitants and can potentially prevent the extinction of marine life, such as those which are currently threatened.

These protected areas also play a 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. A well-managed MPA can result in support for adjacent fisheries and assistance in job creation, the facilitation of healthy marine animals, improved ecological resilience to climate change and the provision of vital information that contributes towards research.

In order to accomplish these types of results, MPA Day was born thanks to the MPA Alliance consisting of South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR), Two Oceans Aquarium, Flow Communications, Olivia Jones Communications, Dyer Island Conservation Trust and WILDOCEANS (a programme of the WILDTRUST).

Dr Judy Mann, Conservation Strategist at SAAMBR, stated that simply leading the MPA Day Alliance has been the most rewarding thing she has done for many years.

“Our weekly meetings were filled with lively discussions and great ideas that were translated into actions through our incredible team,” she said.

“Despite working without a budget, everyone was committed to achieving the goal of raising South Africans awareness of MPAs, and through these activities we exceeded my greatest hopes for the day and 2021 was just the start!”

A number of webinars were held for the people of South Africa. Members of Two Oceans Aquarium are seen broadcasting from an MPA to viewers. Photo: Two Oceans Aquarium.

Aside from webinars on MPA Day, clean-ups and interactive talks were held to spread awareness. The Aliwal Shoal was also part of the day’s celebrations on the South Coast too.

MPA Day is still being celebrated and the MPA photography competition is still open until August 31.The competition is open to photographers of all ages and skill levels looking to showcase their talent and win some amazing prizes of course.

Prizes include entrance tickets to various attractions, specialist tours and cruises.

Photographs can be taken in any of the South African MPAs and must fit into the categories of either scenery, creatures or activities. To enter or find out more, visit the SAAMBR website’s news section.

For more information about South Africa’s MPAs, visit