Each year on 8 June, people the world over, celebrate World Oceans Day. Honestly, considering what the oceans do for us, we feel World Oceans Day should be celebrated every day. The ocean is responsible for producing oxygen, for our climate, feeding people, providing jobs and supplying us with vital minerals and more.
Let’s take a moment to celebrate the ocean. Do me a favour and take a deep breath. Now, breathe out. When you are ready, repeat the process. Breathing is something we do without even thinking about it. Now, take a moment to thank the ocean, that wonderful, magical blue heart of our planet, for that second breath you took. Yes, the ocean is responsible for producing around 70% of the oxygen that we breathe every day. It is also responsible for our climate, feeding people, providing jobs, supplying us with vital minerals, and for bringing serenity into our hectic lives.
See also: COVID-19 and its' Impact on Ocean Conservation Initiatives
and, Earth's High Seas: A Frontier in Need of Governance
What are marine protected areas?
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) describes an MPA as “a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated, and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.” or, you can just think of an MPA as an ocean nature reserve.
Throughout the world, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are areas within the marine environment which are protected, to the benefit of the marine environment, other associated environments, the people as well as cultural activities in those areas.
The Two Oceans Aquarium has put together a guide about everything you need to know about MPAs and why they are so important, you can find it here.
Marine Protected Areas in South Africa
South Africa currently has 42 Marine Protected Areas. Forty-one of these MPAs amount to only 5% of our total marine environment that is under protection (The forty-second is the Prince Edward Islands). The global movement is to have 30% of the world’s marine environment protected by 2030 and there is an online petition to be signed to make this happen. Signing a petition is perhaps not enough for you? In that case, why not relook your shopping habits? Buy only SASSI green-listed seafood, say no to plastic, and support local suppliers. Remember, your wallet is a very powerful tool that you carry around with you every day. Where you spend your money, is where money will be spent, and this includes the development of more sustainable fishing methods, better plastic-alternatives, and the upliftment of local communities.
We can all do our bit to ensure that this planet remains blue because, without a healthy blue, there is no healthy green. Without a healthy ocean, we will not have a healthy planet or healthy people. Happy World Oceans Day to you and our Mother Ocean.
Main photo by NOAA
For more information on marine protected areas check out the Two Oceans Blog