Fynbos Land Protection Campaign / ©: Robert Miller

Marine protected areas

Marine protected areas (MPAs) - also known as marine parks - form part of our commitment to protect the natural environment in much the same way that nature reserves and national parks protect terrestrial habitat types.
The first MPA was declared in South Africa only in 1964 (Tsitsikamma).

There is still a general perception that marine environments are more resilient than terrestrial environments, and less susceptible to irreversible damage by human activities. This perception is neither appropriate nor entirely correct.
Worldwide, fish populations have been heavily depleted by fishing activities. Furthermore the oceans are under threat from other activities, including mining, invasive alien species, pollution, boating, coastal development, catchment runoff and uncontrolled tourism.

MPAs now form the backbone of South Africa’s marine conservation strategy and are augmented by comprehensive fishery regulations, and controls on pollution, shipping and mining.

There are 21 marine MPA's in South Africa promulgated under the Marine Living Resources Act No. 18 of 1998 (MLRA). The objectives of MPAs as described in the MLRA are to protect the marine life, facilitate fisheries management and reduce user-conflict. In South Africa, the management of MPAs and fisheries is controlled by the same policy and legislation. The concept of “no take” is important in South African MPAs. Eight of the 21 MPAs are completely “no take” areas.

The profile of MPAs is considerably lower than that of terrestrial protected areas. This is partly a worldwide phenomenon. This imbalance is slowly being rectified, as witnessed by new international calls for marine conservation, MPAs and responsible fishing practices.

 / ©: Martin Harvey_WWF
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are playing an important role to support sensitive ecosystems and food diversity along the South African coastline.
© Martin Harvey_WWF

Follow WWF


The WWF Honda Marine Parks Programme

  •  / ©: WWFSA

    WWF and Honda have partnered to develop a cohesive Marine Protected Areas Programme that will support and improve MPA management in South Africa. Read more