Mr Xola Mkefe, Deputy Director-General, Environmental Affairs, Oceans & Coasts
South Africa

We welcome the new, larger iSimangaliso MPA but request that the Department of Environmental affairs review some of the proposed new regulations as they will be detrimental to ecotourism in the area:

3 Nautical Mile offshore limit for fishing & diving
If fishing is only allowed within 3NM of the shore, it will compromise fishing - Sodwana's largest producer of income & investment & have serious socio-economic impacts on the whole area. It will also increase conflict between fishers & divers who will all be competing for the same space. We request a 15 nautical mile offshore limit for fishing.

Whaleshark Restrictions
A 20 metre boundary would make this one of the most stringent restrictions in the world & negatively impact this area of ecotourism. We request a 3-5m boundary, in line with world standards and suggest that the whaleshark code of conduct is enforced.

Dolphin swimming
We request a review on the previously implemented rule prohibiting swimming with dolphins as it results in a loss of business to neighbouring Ponta do Ouro in Mozambique. We believe it could create a new industry & jobs if allowed in a controlled and regulated manner

Read the full letter to the DEA below
Please feel free to make your own submissions as groups, clubs or individuals - objections close 17 May 2016 ( DEA email address in letter below)

The Deputy Director-General of Environmental Affairs
Ocean & Coasts

Dear Mr Mkefe

We would like to commend you on this initiative and welcome the proposed new network of 22 Proposed Marine Protected Areas. The MPA of greatest interest to us is the larger and expanded proposed iSimangaliso MPA & we fully support the extended protection this will offer to this amazing area of biodiversity. As a community that derives its income almost entirely from ocean related ecotourism, we are fully in favour of any measures that protect our MPAs from illegal fishing, mining, seismic surveys, petroleum activities & mariculture.

We fully support the need for no take/sanctuary areas, the value of these areas has been proven & we believe the existing sanctuary or wilderness areas should be extended right to the outer boundary of the new MPA. We support all measures to protect turtles & sharks & recognise the critical role that they play in maintaining healthy oceans and providing for tourism.

As one of Operation Phakisa’s main objectives is to grow ecotourism and the goal of facilitating ecotourism is included in the objectives listed in the declaration notice for this MPA, some areas of concern for us are the following:

The proposed 3NM offshore limit for fishing & diving activities
If this limit is passed, Sodwana Bay’s deep sea fishing industry will be compromised / & Sodwana may as well shut its doors. Sodwana is a world class marlin destination & fishing brings the majority of the income to our area. Recreational fishing is central to the tourism economy and the proposed restriction with have serious socio-economic impacts. Restriction of recreational fishing beyond 3 miles will result in job losses and cripple the entire community. It will also increase pressure on the inshore reefs & will result in increased user conflict between fishermen & divers, all fighting for the same small space. The proposed limit would also impact the licenced whale watching trips & other ecotourism activities. We request that the controlled pelagic fishing zone be extended to 15 nautical miles offshore, allowing the fishermen to get to the 1000m depth contour that they require to pursue their sport.

Whaleshark Restrictions
Although whalesharks have been quite scarce here in the past few years, creating a 20 metre restriction will negatively impact this area of ecotourism and make it one of the most stringent regulations in the world. Most countries, many of whom have booming whaleshark ecotourism industries enforce a 3-5m boundary rule. We recommend that the whale shark code of conduct is enforced.

Dolphin swimming
We request a review of the previously implemented rule prohibiting swimming with dolphins and believe that it should be allowed in a controlled and regulated manor. It is a great opportunity to develop a whole new area of ecotourism and create more jobs. Numerous requests are received for dolphin snorkeling/ swims and we end up losing the tourism to our neighbouring Ponta Do Oura in Southern Mozambique, where it is a booming, stand alone industry. It is well known that the same dolphin pods move between Sodwana & Ponta Do Oura.

We request your assistance with these concerns & look forward to your positive feedback.

Sodwana Bay Affected Parties.

GoPetition respects your privacy.

The DEA - Please review the proposed new iSimangaliso MPA regulations petition to Mr Xola Mkefe, Deputy Director-General, Environmental Affairs, Oceans & Coasts was written by Sodwana Bay and is in the category Environment at GoPetition.