MPA Day receives international support from world-renowned conservationists

The fourth annual Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Day on August 1, 2024 welcomes even more support from around the world as the event continues to grow.

With the theme of MPAs – for people and for nature, MPA Day invites people around the world to recognize the importance of these ‘nature reserves of the sea’.

Join the MPA Day

This year, the MPA Day team welcomes on board the Mission Blue team, which will assemble its network of Hope Spots around the world. Hope Spots are special places scientifically identified as critical to ocean health, all 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 enables the existence of life on Earth, including humans .

HELCOM also expresses its support for MPA Day, an intergovernmental organization bridging policy and science on issues related to the Baltic Sea environment.

Commenting on their involvement, Jannica Haldin, HELCOM Deputy Executive Secretary, said: “We are thrilled to bring MPA Day to European shores this year. People protect what they love, and they can only learn to love what they know. Sharing the beauty and merits of our MPAs is therefore crucial for the protection of marine ecosystems, not only in the Baltic Sea but worldwide. Our seas need our support now more than ever, so we are very excited to be working with partners in South Africa and around the world to further the critical role of Marine Protected Areas in conserving the biodiversity of our oceans underline.”

READ ALSO: Celebrate MPA Day with one of these fun, ocean-focused activities

They are joined by organizations in the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Community (WIOMSA), which works with members, various partners and governments to support the use and conservation of marine resources in ten countries of the Western Indian Ocean.

The health of the oceans in the spotlight

This year’s MPA Day celebrations are timely as the fate of the oceans is in question worldwide, with two major ocean conferences being held this year alone.

In April, the UN Ocean Decade Conference in Barcelona attracted 1,500 people, and 3,000 online, for three days of groundbreaking discussions, insightful presentations and inspiring collaborations to secure the future of the ocean.

UNESCO’s Barcelona Declaration reads: “Ocean literacy is an important area where progress must be expanded to engage all sectors of society, including policy makers, resource managers and industry, to raise awareness of today’s ocean challenges and tomorrow.”

Later that month, Greece hosted the Our Ocean Conference, where state delegates, organization representatives, academics and philanthropists gathered to discuss protecting the world’s oceans and pledge action to safeguard their future.

“Two such high-level conferences so close together are a sign that the world is waking up to the fact that humanity’s survival depends on a healthy ocean. One of the key outcomes of both conferences was the need to place greater emphasis 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 take care of these special places in the ocean, Ocean Literacy in action. This year we are keeping a local focus for MPA Day, while joining our colleagues around the world in making this a global call to action,” said Dr. Judy Mann, Founder of MPA Day and Director of Strategic projects at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation.

Dr. Mann said regionally focused activities will take place in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KZN, with program details for each location to be announced.

“The Two Oceans Aquarium is very much looking forward to being part of an even bigger and better MPA Day this year. Working with local organizations around the False Bay Hope Spot and beyond, we hope to engage the public in a range of ocean-related activities that will not only celebrate MPAs, but also generate additional support for these crucial parts of the ocean. We are so lucky 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,” says Helen Lockhart, conservation and sustainability manager at Two Oceans Aquarium.

In South Africa, 41 MPAs protect only five percent 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 activities.

Get in on all the action of MPA Day 2024 by visiting MPA Day South Africa for current events and activities. The partners involved in MPA Day are Two Oceans Aquarium, Flow Communications, Olivia Jones Communications, WildOceans (a program 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.