Just a basic summary of the KZN MPA expansion workshop that was attended by Mark B and myself last week. After two long days there were presentations by Dr Jean Harris, Dr Kerry Sink, Alan Boyd (MCM), Peter Chadwick (WWF) Bruce Mann, Mandy Lombard, Grant Trebble and a whole lot more. The basic jist of the meeting was about this great mathematical software that once all the inputs have been entered spits out recommended areas for either creating MPA’s and expanding some and rezoning some. In laymen language they want to protect 20% of all fauna and flora on the SA coast. So if you protect 20% of everything then the Idea is that there will be enough of everything to take us into the future for our children’s children. There is also a view to try and have MPA’s in conjunction with terrestrial protected areas in order to get that land sea thing. Each needs each other in the big picture.The big problem with this is that all the inputs are coming from the users such as the fishermen, spear fishermen and apparently divers. With a result the very places that the spearos have given them are now subject to protection and zoned as no take areas. It was quite evident that the clever people giving presentations talked about the current MPA’s as though they were giving protection to marine life. It was also quite evident that the audience other than those in the know received this information as though there was protection in the current MPA’s and accepted it as such.
Observations from the various speakers (Not All) were as such:-
Dr Gene Harris eKZNW
Took Underwater Africa’s presentation as a reality check for all the scientists as to what’s happening on the ground. That there is a huge communication gap between the policy makers and the people on the ground and what’s actually happening. (Strange, I thought that’s what we keep telling them from ages ago) There was also talk that user groups should be taking part in this process from planning stages as they can Identify practical problems on the ground. In doing this they will also have input into the process and therefore more buy in.
Alan Boyd (MCM)
Was probably the worst presentation and it is clear ther is no trust between MCM and the user groups. There were comments in the audience that they cant understand why we are not MCM’s biggest ally being non consumptive. Nobody in the audience other than those in the know understands all the problems with the current MPA’s.The most disturbing thing in Alan Boyd’s presentation was that it seems that there is quite a lot of things in process that is going to give MCM the power to regulate most non consumptive users in MPA’s. (A scary thought)
Rob Crankshaw (Clansthal Conservancy)
He spoke about the rezoning of the Aliwal Shoal MPA to include the river at Widenham the land in between and the last river just south of the crock farm forming the eThekwini southern border. These two rivers would be the northern and southern boundary of lines going out to sea forming no take zones. I don’t believe they talked to any of the diving fraternity which leads me to believe they have ulterior motives for their noble cause. Basically the right thing for the wrong reasons. Funny between MCM and the greater planners their ideas and legislation is all the wrong thing for the right reasons.
Of all the other potential MPA’s two will incorporate Protea Banks and the Bluff. Funny that’s all the places that scuba divers use. The other thing is that at least 3 of the MPA’s tabled currently have beaches serviced by the sharks board. So more MPA’s with shark nets. All they will do is zone the MPA and give permits to NSB to continue.
Some of the MPA’s tabled are zoned so intricately that trying to police the Aliwal MPA would be a walk in the park compared. That is if you have the resources to police them. It was tabled that they can’t police the current ones so why create more. Acording to Cedric Coetzee they have the money and resources. There seems to be a huge gap (communication & financial) between the upper echelons of KZN wildlife and the people on the ground. In the same breath it was decided that compliance was only going to be possible with the help from the users, especially the non consumptive ones. Quite difficult when you keep creating these laws and permits/ conditions that keep ticking us off.
Talking of zoning it was noted that all current MPA’s have different inconsistencies with zones, Zone A, Zone B and Zone C. Zone a being sanctuary No entry only travel through but not be in possession of fish etc and by the way you are only allowed to stop if you are sinking, B being no take zones though pelagic fishing is allowed but it must be catch and release, and Zone C which you are allowed to keep fish (Pelagic only) and no bottom fishing allowed. If you apply this to Aliwal it does not make sense as all the almost opposites apply. (The core area being zone B and the rest being zone C)
There seems to be some initiatives that may be explored with the WWF. The WWF is all for partnerships with business and they have some interesting concepts.
Well that was pretty much it in a nutshell. We did have lunch on the eKZNW budget and we clearly saw why they cant afford to launch their boats as day one lunch snacks or sandwiches were diabolical.
I am sure at the next meeting we will catch up with this regard. The other thing that was evident is that if one does not have a body that represents your user group they will run over you as you wont have the opportunity to attend forums such as this and stand up against all the shortcomings and people that make inadequate policy, rules and regulations that reflect on not only the environment but on us negatively.
Anyone want more info with this regard please contact either me or Mark B and I am sure we can elaborate.