Roving Reporters sent Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa a list of questions about her department’s apparent tardiness in expanding South Africa’s Marine Protected Areas.
Here are the questions in full, followed by a response from department spokesman Zolile Nqayi.
There is growing concern that Minister Edna Molewa is reneging on the DEA’s commitment to expand the network of MPAs. Please could we get a response to the following:
- The minister published draft notices in February 2016 to declare 21 new MPAs, increasing protection to 5%. Toward the end of last year, DEA spokesman, Albi Modise, said the minister was expected to make a pronouncement on this soon. A year has since passed and even leading marine scientists who played critical roles in mapping out the proposed network of extended MPAs, are unaware why no declaration has made. Please could you advise whether the minister is still intending to increase protection to cover 5% of the economic exclusive zone, and when such announcement will be made.
- There is a public perception that the minister and the DEA has become subservient to the petroleum industry which has been granted gas and oil exploration leases covering more than 90% of SA’s exclusive economic zone.
- More recently a group, mostly comprising marine science students, Youth for MPAs, sent a letter to the DEA also raising concerns and questions about delays in declaring an expanded network of MPAs as per draft notices issued in 2016. At an ‘Only This Much’ demonstration in Durban this week, a member of the group, Nobuhle Mpanza, raised some of these questions, asking: “What is the hold-up in implementing the 22 MPAs to get to the 5% that we need now? The 5% was meant to be declared in 2016, which means we are two years behind schedule. If there are any valid reasons for the delay, why hasn’t the Minister informed the public? What strategy has the Minister put in place to reach the 10% by 2020?”
Response from the DEA
You would appreciate that there are many stakeholders that have been operating for years in South Africa’s EEZ and therefore need to be consulted.
As government departments, we are trying to align objectives of individual activities within Operation Phakisa’s stated aim of protection of the environment and consumptive and exploration activities, for the benefit of all citizens in terms of job creation and wellness of the ocean environment. – Zolile Nqayi, Director Communication: DEA