At present less than 1% of South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is protected within Marine Protected Areas. This project aimed to support the identification of a spatial management network in order to represent offshore biodiversity, protect vulnerable ecosystems, contribute to fisheries sustainability and reduce bycatch. This was achieved by collating data, engaging with relevant industries, scientists, government departments and conducting systematic planning using Marxan. The project identified nine priority areas for spatial management including no-take MPAs, benthic protection zones and fishery and bycatch management areas. In addition, the project has engaged with offshore stakeholders from the outset, has overcome significant challenges in engaging petroleum, diamond mining and fisheries sectors and has built some support for offshore MPAs. Considerable challenges remain in the implementation of spatial management but the project has garnered effective scientific support across multiple institutions and is building industry understanding and support through a flexible approach.
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Ms Belinda Blackburn (Secretaría de la CCRVMA)
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