The iconic Robben Island will soon be declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA) by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).
In an official social media statement, Robben Island Museum, an agency of the Department of Arts & Culture, confirmed the news.
“The DEA is in process of finalising the Gazette as part of the process. We look forward to working more with the DEA in the interest of natural and cultural preservation of the Island as a state entity.”
The organisation added that the new status will ensure the protection of an array of marine wildlife species around the island.
“Both institutions value the importance of this MPA declaration and its positive contribution towards the conservation of the island’s marine biodiversity, and advancing the sustainable tourism agenda.”
This comes after the DEA proposed an additional 220 areas to be considered as MPAs and the proposal was approved by the Cabinet in October 2018. The effort to increase the number of MPAs began in 2014 and was aimed at increasing the percentage of protected oceans in South Africa.
Currently, there are 45 official protected marine areas in the country, increasing from 0.4% to 5%, in an effort to meet Ocean Economy and Sustainability Goals of the United Nations.
In order to reach the goal of 10% protection, South Africa must aim to protect a further 5% of its oceans by 2020.
What are MPAs?
These are areas of coastline or ocean that are protected to positively impact both nature and humans. According to Marine Protected Areas, declaring an area an MPA aids to manage parts of the marine environment in order to promote sustainable fisheries, ensuring marine ecosystems are functioning, protecting the species present in the area and helping people benefit from the ocean.