On 25 October 2018, South Africa announced that the nation’s Cabinet approved 20 new marine protected areas for designation in 2019. The announcement represented the long-awaited implementation of the Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy Marine Protected Area Network. This establishes South Africa as a leader in African ocean protection, and contributes to protection of both the Southeast Atlantic Ocean and Southwest Indian Ocean – a uniquely South African opportunity!
The 20 areas include 18 new MPAs and expansions of Aliwal Shoal MPA and the conjoined Maputaland and St. Lucia MPAs. Together, the sites add approximately 50,000 km2 to South Africa’s protected area estate. This is an area over two and a half times the size of the Kruger National Park, South Africa’s largest protected area on land. It will increase protection of South Africa’s waters from 0.4% to 5%. (This figure excludes the 180,000-km2 MPA in South Africa’s sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands territory.)