South Africa currently has 41 MPAs, which make up only 5% of our coastline, according to the agency.
Studies have shown that MPAs have a great positive impact — not only on the marine life found in these areas but also on surrounding communities and the economy of the areas.
They support adjacent fisheries, ensure healthy marine animals, help with job creation, provide resilience to climate change and contribute to research.
There are various levels of protection and not all MPAs are wholly protected. In many MPAs, resource use is allowed according to strict regulations, while in other areas no resource use is permitted, adds the agency.
The drive to protect more of our ocean ecosystem stems from the fact that humans are deeply dependent on the ocean for the healthy future of our planet. Without a balanced and healthy ecosystem within the marine environment, we cannot have a healthy ecosystem on land. This, of course, has a great impact on humans, as well as terrestrial animals and plants.
"It's a privilege to be contributing to this important cause as part of the MPA Alliance, along with our clients the South African Association for Marine Biological Research, the Two Oceans Aquarium Trust and WildOceans," says Flow CEO Tara Turkington.
The other MPA Day Alliance partners include the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Olivia Jones Communications. The MPA Day Alliance says that it is planning a number of exciting activities leading up to and on the day.
"Flow Communications has been a critical partner and support to the MPA Day Alliance. Turkington is my main go-to as a communications and marketing expert. She has been an incredible and steady guide and helped us improve what we do. We could not have put this all together without Flow," says SAAMBR conservation strategist Dr Judy Mann-Lang.
Flow is hosting and providing technical support for a live online tour of four of South Africa's MPAs on Sunday, 1 August on its virtual event platform.
The integrated communications company is also hosting two Twitter chats to create a buzz around MPA Day and is responsible for the MPA Day social media, including content development and community management of the MPA Day Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Flow has also provided media training for all the alliance spokespeople.
"Our oceans owe Flow a huge depth of gratitude," says Mann-Lang. "The value of working with a team that has such passion and with which we have such good relationships can’t be underestimated."
Individuals are encouraged to join the celebration of our natural and marine heritage by celebrating MPA Day, as well as join the initiatives organised by the MPA Day Alliance.
On the day, a live webinar will be hosted from various areas around the coast. Starting at 14:00, this event will take the form of a live-crossing to four South African MPAs:
- iSimangaliso Wetland Park MPA
- uThukela MPA
- De Hoop MPA
- Dyer Island, and
- Table Mountain MPA.
Individuals can join the webinar to learn more about each of the featured MPAs, their history, ecosystems, historical and traditional significance and the people who love, make use of and protect these areas.
This online event will be ideal for families to learn about coastal areas of South Africa where they might not have been before, or to revisit areas they already know and love. Registration is available here
The first-ever MPA Day in Africa will end with an interactive and sociable Twitter chat, hosted by the members of the MPA Day Alliance. The chat is scheduled to start at 19:00 on Sunday, 1 August and will see interactions between the alliance members, their followers and others who are interested in, and have a love for, marine protected areas.
A photographic competition will additionally give photographers of all ages and skill levels the chance to not only show off their photography talent but also to win prizes.
Photos may be taken in any of the South African MPAs. The submission deadline has been extended to Saturday, 31 August and the winners will be announced on Wednesday, 1 September. Entrance is available here
For more information, visit www.marineprotectedareas.org.za