Marine Protected Areas help safeguard our oceans and the services they provide.

The returns on having well designed and properly run MPAs can be measured in their economic, environmental and social benefits.





MPAs protect spawning and nursery areas of fish, providing areas for resource recovery. Through the spillover of fish from MPAs into adjacent areas, they provide safe havens whilst maintaining good catches for fishermen. Ultimately, in an increasingly industrialised ocean, MPAs help maintain food and job security provided by the fisheries sector.



Many of our fish stocks are severely over-exploited after decades of heavy fishing. MPAs allow ecosystems and the creatures and plants living in them to recover. They provide safe spaces in which fish can breed undisturbed, and can protect spawning and nursery areas that let young fish mature into adulthood, without the pressure of fishing.

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South Africa's fishing industries employ thousands of people that rely on healthy oceans. From occasional harvesters to large scale purse-seine fishing, there are many that depend on the ocean for their livelihood. For many, fishing is a way of life.



Jobs associated with the marine wildlife economy, such as those linked to tour guiding, scuba diving, shark cage diving, and turtle, bird and whale watching are possible in proximity to protected areas.



Local communities can capitalize on the opportunities from the influx of tourists who come to otherwise unknown areas because of their protected status. This allows for entrepreneurial enterprises such as family-run restaurants and ‘home-stay’ type accommodation, as well as craftwork.



MPAs create jobs linked directly to the park, including rangers, park managers, gate staff, maintenance staff and in-house educators.

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Climate Resilience


MPAs are part of our climate change adaptation strategy. Keeping coastal areas healthy provides resilience in ecosystems and armours our shorelines.


Coastal protection

Healthy shorelines protect and buffer coastal communities and infrastructure from extreme weather, tsunamis and sea-level rise. Protection now yields future benefits and safeguards the social and economic wellbeing of coastal communities.


Resilient ecosystems and coastal communities

MPAs help maintain resilience in ecosystems under stress from climate and global change. Resilience in ecosystems maintains resilience in coastal communities. MPAs help maintain genetic diversity, critical in maintaining the genes for species to adapt to climate and other changes.

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South Africa has a wealth of ocean-related activities for local and international tourists.



The African penguin colony at Simonstown makes several million Rand each year in ticket sales at the gate.



South Africa’s oceans have species that occur nowhere else on earth and offer incredible ocean encounters with seabirds, turtles, sharks, rays and other creatures. South Africa’s seascapes include beautiful reefscapes, underwater forests and canyons home to ‘Pre-historic’ coelacanths. Scuba divers report having a much richer diving experience when they don’t have to compete with anglers, as the fish life is more diverse and abundant.


Interesting marine life

Many tourists come to South Africa to see the many species of sharks, whales, dolphins, seahorses and nudibranchs.

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Outdoor classrooms

MPAs are wonderful resources for education and provide learning opportunities for environmental education, natural and cultural heritage and fisheries management. They preserve accessible sites for learning such as the beautiful seaweed gardens and fossils in the Trafalgar MPA. Children adjacent to the Maputaland MPA learn about the ecotourism benefits of turtles.





The diverse oceans of South Africa provide rich opportunities for researchers to learn more about marine life and make valuable additions to global knowledge about marine ecosystems. Our oceans are living laboratories.


Yardstick for measuring change

MPAs help us to understand what a healthy ecosystem looks like. We can use this information to measure change happening in unprotected areas of our coasts or in our ocean waters. These scientific baselines, enable us to measure the impacts of climate change, invasive alien species, or pressure from fishing, mining and other activities outside the MPA.



The ocean has many secrets that we are only just beginning to unravel. Cancer-fighting compounds have been found in sea slugs and sponges that occur nowhere else but in South Africa's rich oceans.


To find out more about the scientists that have contributed to the extensive knowledge of marine life in South Africa, see Science.

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Our coastlines have cultural and historic meaning for many South Africans – MPAs can help look after these special places, such as archaeological sites, traditional fishing areas and can help support age-old cultural practices. Where MPAs allow some fishing or harvesting of species such as mussels, people gain a valuable source of protein, more importantly this allows communities to continue with the historical subsistence practices that maintain their cultural heritage.



The sea is a place of cleansing and spiritual renewal for many South Africans. A powerful spiritual connection to our ocean enhances our lives and sustains us emotionally.



Increasing the MPA network helps South Africa progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) target of 10 % protection by 2020. Additional goals include the reduction of marine pollution, sustainable management and protection of coastal and marine ecosystems, minimise and address impacts of ocean acidification, and regulate harvesting and end overfishing.





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