Celebrating National Marine Week 2019
National Marine Week is celebrated across South Africa during the second week of October to encourage the sustainable use of marine resources and to highlight the importance of keeping coastal ecosystems healthy for current and future generations.
South Africa has over 3 000 km of coastline and some of the most diverse marine environments in the world. The benefits derived from the oceans include: climate regulation, waste absorption, sustenance (sea food), economic development (tourism, seafood distribution), transportation (shipping), medicine (biomedical products from marine plants and animals) and recreation (swimming, diving and so forth).
In the Western Cape, we are privileged to have some of the most pristine coastline in Africa, with a variety of marine life active on our coasts. This is partly due to the great work that is done in our province in conserving our coastlines and oceans, by a variety of stakeholders and organisations.
The oceans are not only a place to conserve marine life, but a resource for local communities to derive income and a livelihood from. At CapeNature, we believe that our natural resources should be utilised sustainably so that all can benefit from them in the long-term, without any damage or harm befalling the environments which produce those resources, and the ocean is no different.
Whether it is through sustainable fishing practices, responsible tourism, scientific research, or just for recreation, the oceans are an integral part of our society, and a healthy ocean means a healthy community.
This month is also about recognising the connection that the land has to the sea, and how our water resources, and the way we treat them, affect the oceans and marine life. The oceans do not exist in isolation to the land, and that connection reiterates the fact that we live in one large, interconnected ecosystem.
CapeNature manages six Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on behalf of the Department of Environmental Affairs: Oceans and Coast, namely Rocherpan, Betty’s Bay, de Hoop, Stilbaai, Robberg and Goukamma. MPAs aim to conserve marine life and promote the conservation and effective management of biodiverse marine areas. They are an example of successful collaboration between civil society, communities and government to take care of our natural resources, particularly our marine resources.
As part of the awareness campaign around Marine Week, CapeNature is hosting a variety of educational programmes for school learners. These programmes are aimed at creating an appreciation of the marine and coastal environment. When learners are able to access and experience MPAs for themselves, they are able to connect the knowledge learned about protecting our marine environments to nature in a manner that is not possible in a traditional classroom setting.