MPA Day celebrations connect the world in the fight for ocean health

“South Africa’s fate – and the fate of the world – is closely tied to the health of our ocean.”

–    Mathu Joyini, South Africa’s ambassador and representative to the United Nations

The second annual MPA Day, which is held on the 1 August every year, welcomed many countries in celebrating Marine Protected Areas (MPA) and their value to ocean, and human health. The initiative, which started in South Africa last year, brings global awareness to these ‘nature reserves of the sea’, with community-based events hosted at various MPAs this year.

“We’re so grateful to all the event organisers, volunteers and supporters who contributed to making this MPA Day such a success!” said Dr Judy Mann, Executive of Strategic Projects at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation. “The urgency needed in protecting these ocean havens is becoming apparent internationally, and it’s fantastic to see the support from global organisations through to individuals living around MPAs. While this is an annual celebration, we’ll continue to build on this momentum as we work towards building support for MPAs and the people who depend on the ocean.”

MPA Day gained further recognition after the 2021 campaign received five awards, including one gold, at the 2022 PRISM Awards held on 15 July. This was not only a well-deserved honour for the communication companies behind the campaign – Flow Communications and Olivia Jones Communications – as well as the entire MPA Day team, but also brought much-needed focus to the message behind the event.

The 2022 MPA Day celebrations followed the theme #LetsTalkMPAs. Some of the key MPA-based events included:

· Celebrations of the Aliwal Shoal MPA were held at Scottburgh, hosted by SAAMBR & Olivia Jones Communications

· Dalebrook in the Table Mountain MPA was the scene for celebrations hosted by the Two Oceans Aquarium, I Am Water, Ocean Hub Africa and Save Our Seas Shark Education Centre

·  Betty’s Bay MPA was highlighted in a video produced by Cape Nature featuring interviews with various stakeholders

· iSimangaliso Wetland Park MPA celebrations were hosted by WILDTRUST, Youth4MPAs, uFudu Turtle Tours, Adventure Mania

·  Robben Island Heritage Trust celebrated with a beach clean-up. 

·  Youth in the area experienced the uThukela MPA thanks to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

In addition to these, Homebrew Films has put together a beautiful video for MPA Day featuring well known celebrity Irshaad Ally. Lively interaction took place on the Twitter Chat featuring MPA Alliance partners and several well-known influencers engaging with the public around the hashtags #MPADay #LetsTalkMPAs. To round off the day a team of leading marine experts spoke on the topic ‘Do Marine Protected Areas work?’ during an MPA Day Webinar.

Don’t miss out!

The MPA Day celebrations will continue with several ongoing events which the public is encouraged to support. These include the:

·  2022 MPA Photo Competition to highlight the 42 South African Marine Protected Areas running until 30 August. There are two categories; ‘Under the Water in an MPA’, and ‘Above the Water in an MPA’ for amateur and professional photographers. More information is available MPA+Day+Photo+Competition+2022+final.pdf (squarespace.com).

·    Citizen scientists are also encouraged to contribute towards the iNaturalist MPA Project. For those who enjoy diving, snorkeling or just exploring rocky shores with a camera, this is a chance to contribute towards MPA Day by sharing photos and supporting scientific research. Find out more at https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/south-african-marine-protected-areas-mpas.

To show your support, find out more about MPAs and to become part of the global climate crisis awareness movement, check out the social media pages: 

Instagram @marineprotectedareassa

Twitter @MPAsSA1

Facebook Marine Protected Areas SA (@MPASouthAfrica) following the hashtags #MPADay #LetsTalkMPAs #MPAs #MarineProtectedArea; or visit www.marineprotectedareas.org.za.

The MPA Alliance partners contributing to MPA Day 2022 are: Flow Communications, Olivia Jones Communications, Two Oceans Aquarium, SAAMBR, WILDTRUST, WWF South Africa & Youth4MPAs, Ocean Hub Africa, I am water,

WWF-SASSI, Save our Seas

“South Africa’s waters account for 15% of the world’s marine species and are the site of the biggest annual migration on the planet. Protecting the high seas – ocean beyond national jurisdiction – is key to preserving these vital ecosystems.” – Pew Environment