Located deep within the sub-Antarctic Indian Ocean, South Africa’s all-but-uninhabited Prince Edward Islands have been declared a Marine Protected Area by green-thinking politicians.
Conservationists the world over are celebrating a formal announcement to declare South Africa’s Prince Edward Islands as a Marine Protected Area (MPA). Long since heralded as a site of significant biodiversity, the islands, which consist of Prince Edward and Marion Islands, are home to everything from albatrosses to killer whales and from penguins to Patagonian tooth stocks.
Plagued by poachers throughout the 1990s, it is hoped that this new measure will help recover the tooth stock populations and go a long way to protecting the islands’ other marine creatures, by deterring the illegal and unsustainable fishing practices and by restoring the natural balance of this delicate Southern Ocean eco-system.
The region forms South Africa’s first offshore MPA and a collaboration between several conservation charities and the South African Government. Declared as a “[significant contribution] to global initiatives towards protection of offshore and deep ocean areas” by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, it is hoped that the move will be trigger further action involving the sub-Arctic islands.
Consisting of a 12 nautical mile no take zone, four restricted zones in which fishing is limited and a low-impact controlled zone linking the aforementioned restricted zones, the protection zones have been met with acclaim from the within South Africa and throughout the international community as a whole.
Jim Leape, the Director General of WWF International signaled his approval with the following statement: “It is inspiring to see such environmental leadership in South Africa. Still too little of the world’s precious oceans are protected from exploitation, and this is a landmark victory for marine conservation – and hopefully a sign of more to come.”