KZN coastal protection contract cancelled, could impact on ocean economy
Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa’s latest additions to South African marine protected areas (MPAs) will bring ocean protection within the country’s exclusive economic zone to over the five percent mark. The 22 new MPAs will create about seventy thousand square kilometres of protected space and will, according to her department, protect offshore ecosystems and species ranging from deep areas along the Namibia border to a more than tenfold expansion of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal. At present less than half a percent of South Africa’s ocean ecosystems are formally protected compared to the about eight percent of terrestrial areas such as the Kruger National Park and Table Mountain Nation Park. The new MPAs were identified as part of Operation Phakisa, a presidential project to fast track South Africa’s ocean economy. Launched in October 2014 by President Zuma, Phakisa will see an increase in economic activity on and below the oceans abutting South Africa. A study undertaken on behalf of government indicates the oceans around South Africa have the potential to contribute about R54 billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).