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Addo Marine Protected Area to be expanded for further conservation

Addo Marine Protected Area to be expanded for further conservation

A public participation meeting was held at the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipal City Hall on Thursday, regarding the proposed Addo Elephant National Park Marine Protected Area (MPA) launched by the Phakisa Proposed MPA Network.

Local stakeholders had an opportunity to express their concerns over the proposed establishment of the Addo MPA, which will be finalised once the public participation process has been completed.

Director of Biodiversity and Marine Protected Areas, Xola Mkefe, told RNews that the Addo Marine ecosystem has the largest breeding colony of African Penguins than anywhere else in the world.

“Just in St. Croix and Bird Island alone we have more than 7 000 pairs of breeding penguins, so it is not right to have threatened birds breeding outside the protected area,” Mkefe said.

“Our main aim is to give formal protection to those respective penguins by expanding our protected area,” he added.

Mkefe said that the proposal for the expansion of the MPA would mainly protect the penguin’s feeding grounds, because there is a lot of competition between the species and the fishing community, as well as the surrounding development industries.

“We have to make sure the penguins don’t get displaced or starved, because as it stands now they have to travel extremely long distances to go feed, because of the competition with the fishing industries and the development around them,” Mkefe said.

This will result in commercial and recreational fishing being prohibited in large areas of the MPA, while others will be zoned for continued fishing.

“Most of the areas that are right on the coast where communities can walk to will still be open for fishing, but the big offshore areas in the MPA will be prohibited to fishing activities,” Mkefe added.

The comments window from the community and respective affected parties will close on 17th May, after which the issues will be processed and gratified with regards to potential existing concerns in a two-way communicative stream.

“We will be considering all of the comments, their recommendations and making adjustments and compromising where we agree in respect to the boundaries of the MPA, after which these recommendations will be sent to the Minister,” Mkefe said.

The Minister of Environmental Affairs will consider and evaluate the recommendations in December this year and will have until the end of March 2017 to declare the proposed Addo MPA.

Image: Director of Biodiversity and Marine Protected Areas, Xola Mkefe, presenting the proposal at the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipal public participation meeting.