Surfers give a “high five” to increased ocean protection

Surfers give a “high five” to increased ocean protection

SUPPORTERS of WildOceans “Only This Much” campaign are still riding a wave of excitement following the South African government’s decision to increase protection of the oceans.

At the weekend, a group of surfers and ocean enthusiasts braved harsh onshore winds at uShaka Beach to make a video promoting the campaign.

Up until October, only 0.4 % of South Africa’s ocean was protected. Then, toward month end, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) announced that it was creating an expanded network of 20 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) bringing the total protection of the oceans to 5%.

A hard won battle

Although further details of the expanded network of MPAs have yet to be disclosed, the decision has been widely welcomed.

Celebrating the move at last week’s Conservation Symposium in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, Dr Jean Harris, the executive director of WildOceans said: “They (MPAs) are one of the key tools for ocean governance. Unless we put those protections in place it’s going to be a problem when we start unlocking the economic activities offshore. We need to make sure sensitive (ocean) habitats, and resources that people depend on are sustainably used.”

Dr Jean Harris, executive director of WildOceans (left) and marine biodiversity expert, Tamsyn Livingstone of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, celebrate a hard won battle in getting government to increase protection of the oceans amid competing commercial interests, including ongoing gas and oil exploration. Photo: Thabiso Goba

Coordinating the production of Only This Much video at the weekend, Director of Love Africa marketing, Nicola Gerrard, said there was growing recognition of the vital role that oceans play in people’s lives and the overall health of the planet.

“It’s a resource we must all protect,” said Gerrard as surfers gathered to paddle out to give a “high five” beyond the breakers. Click here to watch the video.

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