MPA Day attracts international support from world-renowned conservationists


The 4th annual Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Day on 1 August 2024 welcomes even more support from around the world as the event continues to grow. Themed Celebrating MPAs – for People and for Nature, MPA Day invites people across the globe to recognise the importance of these ‘nature reserves of the sea’.

Rocky Shores in Sodwana.

(Image credit: Adventure Mania Sodwana Bay)


Joining the MPA Day cause


This year, the MPA Day team welcomes on board the Mission Blue team who will rally its network of Hope Spots around the world. Hope Spots are special places scientifically identified as critical to the health of the ocean, all of which are championed by local conservationists supported by Mission Blue.


Renowned oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer, Dr Sylvia Earle, of Mission Blue commented: “Bravo to all who are taking action to save and restore the living ocean that makes possible the existence of life on Earth, humans very much included.”

Renowned oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer, Dr Sylvia Earle, of Mission Blue in the False Bay Hope Spot.

(Image credit: Two Oceans Aquarium)


Also showing its support for MPA Day is HELCOM, an intergovernmental organisation bridging policy and science on matters related to the environment of the Baltic Sea. Commenting on their involvement, Jannica Haldin, the Deputy Executive Secretary of HELCOM said:


“We are thrilled to bring MPA Day to Europe’s shores this year. People protect what they love, and they can only learn to love what they know, so sharing the beauty and merit of our MPAs is central to protecting marine ecosystems, not just in the Baltic Sea but globally. Our seas need our support now more than ever, so we are very excited to unite with partners in South Africa and across the world to underscore the vital role of marine protected areas in preserving our oceans’ biodiversity.”


They’re joined by organisations in the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Community (WIOMSA) which works with members, various partners, and governments to sustain the use and conservation of marine resources across 10 countries of the Western Indian Ocean.


                                       Tsitsikamma MPA.                                                 West Coast MPA.

                            (Image credit: Dr Judy Mann)                                  (Image credit: Dr Judy Mann)


Ocean health in the spotlight


This year’s MPA Day celebrations are well timed as the fate of the oceans is under global discussion with two major ocean conferences hosted this year alone. April saw the UN Ocean Decade Conference in Barcelona attract 1 500 people, as well as 3 000 online, for three days of groundbreaking discussions, insightful presentations, and inspiring collaborations to safeguard the future of the ocean.

Effective signage is critical in MPA management.

(Image credit: Dr Judy Mann)


The Barcelona Statement by UNESCO reads: “Ocean literacy is a key area where progress must be expanded to address all sectors of society including policymakers, resource managers, and industry to sensitize these audiences to the ocean challenges of today and tomorrow.”


Later that month in Greece was Our Ocean Conference where state delegates, organisation representatives, academics, and philanthropists met to discuss the protection of the world’s oceans and pledge actions to safeguard their future.


“Two such high-level conferences so close to each other is a sign that the world is waking up to the fact that the survival of humanity depends on a healthy ocean,” commented Dr Judy Mann, Founder of MPA Day, and the Executive of Strategic Projects at The Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation.


“One of the key outcomes of both conferences was the need for a greater emphasis to be placed on the role of people – and the importance of inspiring people to care for the ocean. And that is what MPA Day is all about – inspiring people to care for these special places in the ocean, Ocean Literacy in action. This year, we are keeping a local focus for MPA Day, while by joining our colleagues around the world we are making this a global call to action!”

Two Oceans Aquarium MPA Day celebrations.

(Image credit: Two Oceans Aquarium)


Dr Mann said there will be regional-focused activities in the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and KZN with programme details set to be announced for each site.


“The Two Oceans Aquarium is very much looking forward to being part of an even bigger and better MPA Day this year,” said Helen Lockhart, Conservation and Sustainability Manager at the Two Oceans Aquarium. “Together with local organisations around the False Bay Hope Spot and further afield, we hope to engage the public in a range of ocean-related activities which will not only celebrate MPAs, but also garner additional support for these crucial areas of the ocean. We are so fortunate in South Africa to have such rich marine diversity off our coast and we want everyone to know about it and want to protect it.”

Turtle at Sodwana.

(Image credit: Eve Marshall)


In South Africa, there are 41 MPAs protecting only 5% of the country’s oceans for the benefit of people and nature. MPA Day encourages everyone to appreciate the value and benefits of MPAs through shared stories, talks, competitions, and ocean-based activities.


Join in on all the MPA Day 2024 action by visiting MPA Day South Africa for updated events and activities. Join in the discussions around MPAs on Instagram @marineprotectedareassa, Twitter @MPAsSA1 or Facebook Marine Protected Areas SA @MPASouthAfrica.


The partners involved in MPA Day are Two Oceans Aquarium, Flow Communications, Olivia Jones Communications, WildOceans (a programme of WildTrust), WWF-SA, Cape Nature, Adventure Mania, Mission Blue, HELCOM, Ezemvelo-KZN Wildlife, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) and others.