The Ocean Protection Campaign has been launched in South Africa, shining a light on the urgent need for ocean protection and conservation.
The campaign comes ahead of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference, COP15, taking place from 7 to 19 December in Montreal, Canada.
Why does the ocean need protecting?
There are many factors contributing to the huge biodiversity crisis happening in the ocean. These include overfishing, damaging industrial activities, habitat destruction, climate change and pollution.
The negative effects of these issues are persistent and not likely to let up. A collapse of the ocean and its resources would trigger an economic collapse.
The ocean globally needs at least 30% protection by 2030, or the effects will be irreversible and devastating. The goal of the campaign is to get South Africa to increase its level of protection from 5.4% to 10% or more.
This increase will be an important step in getting on track to the 30% protection needed globally.
What are MPAs and how do they help?
MPAs are Marine Protected Areas that help restore ocean health by mitigating the impacts of climate change. MPAs work to produce bigger and more fish, create jobs and feed tourism.
Data shows that South Africa’s MPAs are fully protected and actively managed, meaning our MPAs are contributing highly to overall biodiversity protection.
Our country’s MPAs reflect something extremely admirable to the rest of the world: even though we are a developing country with many challenges, we have had enormous success in the conservation, planning and establishment of MPAs.
WILDTRUST and the campaign
WILDTRUST, a South African NPO, focuses on conservation and pushes to educate people on the urgency of change.
The campaign’s lead organiser, Lauren van Nijkerk, says, “We take for granted just how much we rely on a clean, thriving ocean.”
“Every second breath we take comes from the ocean, it offers us food security, tourism and jobs and it regulates our weather – we cannot afford to not protect it as much as we depend on it.”
The #whereisour10 #uphiu10 campaign, launched on social media on 1 December aims to support South Africa in increasing our protection levels to at least 10%.
“As the people of this beautiful country, we can let the government know they have our support ahead of COP15 with #whereisour10 #uphiu10,” says van Nijkerk.
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“What makes this campaign fun is that it is based on the concept of searching for something, like a treasure hunt, as we figure out where the hidden gems of South Africa’s Ocean are that could possibly be our new and expanded MPAs.”
The campaign poses the question “Could it be here?” to promote the consideration of potential areas for new and expanded MPAs.
Some ideas so far include Dassen Island, which will help protect the endangered African penguin, and the outskirts of the De Hoop MPA, which will help protect the endangered puffadder shyshark that is indigenous to South African oceans.
Two other areas are offshore on the west coast, to protect the critically endangered Soupfin shark, and an extension of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park MPA, to protect the critically endangered Leatherback turtle.
What can you do as an individual?
You can show your support of increased ocean protection by adding your name here, and become one of 100,000 voices amplifying the urgency to protect our oceans.
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