Prince Edward Islands declared a marine protected area
South Africa’s Prince Edward Islands have been declared a marine protected area (MPA) by Minister Edna Molewa, making them Africa’s first offshore MPA.
The islands, which consist of Prince Edward and Marion Islands, are located almost 2,000km south of South Africa in the Southern Ocean, and form an important global biodiversity hotspot, which was subject to rampant poaching during the late 1990s. At 180,000km2 the MPA is one of the world’s largest.
The islands are home to a suite of spectacular marine wildlife, including albatrosses, penguins, killer whales and Patagonian toothfish stocks. Unfortunately this wildlife has been threatened by illegal and unsustainable fishing practices in the past, resulting in significant economic and ecological losses to South Africa.
Dr Morné du Plessis, WWF-South Africa’s chief executive says, “This is a historic day for marine conservation in South Africa. This declaration demonstrates South Africa’s new commitment to protecting the Prince Edward Islands, an important national heritage and a crown jewel of our oceans. We praise the minister for her visionary leadership and commitment to securing our marine biodiversity for future generations.”
The declaration follows a long and very successful collaboration between WWF-SA and the Department of Environmental Affairs. It comes almost seven years after South Africa’s then Minister of Environmental Affairs, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, initially announced his intention to declare the MPA.
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