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 Published by Targa Publishing all rights reserved - 2016 No content of this website or Tabloid may be reproduced in any form without the consent of the owners. CONTACT DETAILS Advertising Sales    Mike 	   	  044 620 4042      									  sales @ greatbrakpost.co.za Editorial Content     Laurinda   	  082 738 8011       									  ed.gbp @ greatbrakpost.co.za Article & Proofing	   Marianne	  	  072 025 0153      									  articles @ greatbrakpost.co.za
By Cape Nature October is national Marine Month, join CapeNature and share your commitment in protecting our natural marine resources. Whether you live at the coast or far from it, whether you eat seafood or not, everyone depends on the ocean. Did you know that a healthy ocean generates more than half of the oxygen we breathe? It’s little surprise then, that our oceans, and the ecosystem that supports them, are so important to our, and the planet’s, future survival. But it’s not just about the oceans. The marine environment is inherently connected to the rest of the water system. We ALL depend on the flow of fresh, clean water from our beautiful fynbos mountains, through the rivers and estuaries and in to the sea for our own survival, providing fresh water on land, and keeping the ocean ecosystem healthy. Marine Protected Areas, or MPAs, are vital in ensuring the future health of our marine ecosystem. MPAs are areas of the coastline that have been protected by law, limiting or prohibiting consumptive use within the designated boundaries of the area. In short, this means that fishing, and other exploitation of the marine resources is kept to a minimum, or in some cases prohibited entirely. The benefits of this are clear to see – from ensuring the protection of threatened and vulnerable species resident in the area, to allowing the fish species to breed without being overexploited, which has a knock-on effect on the surrounding ocean area. CapeNature is proud to be the custodian of six MPAs – Robberg, Goukamma, Stilbaai, De Hoop, Betty’s Bay and Rocherpan – and as such understands the importance of keeping these ocean areas in pristine healthy condition. Estuaries Estuaries are just as important as MPAs, as they provide a vital link between catchments and the ocean. They are essentially the link between the land and the sea, and if an estuary is not healthy, it’s a good indicator that the surrounding ocean and landscape are not healthy. In the Western Cape there are over 60 estuaries that flow into the ocean, and the quality of the water in each has a profound impact on the surrounding landscape. Pierre de Villiers, CapeNature’s Coastal Programme Manager, explains why they are so important. “Land-based sediment and nutrients provide ocean ecosystems and species with critical nutrients and habitats that are needed to ensure their survival. Sediment that flows into the ocean when an estuary mouth opens, is deposited on to adjacent beaches by ocean currents. This sediment forms a vital part of the sand cycle that sustains sandy beaches and dune systems. A healthy sandy beach with supporting dune systems increases the resilience of that particular coastal zone to sea level rise and increased storm surge. Additionally, nutrients from the catchments sustain algal species in the ocean which in addition to habitat for specific species, sustains a range of marine grazers, some of which are of importance to the survival of local coastal communities, for example abalone and West Coast rock lobster. Estuaries themselves form critical nursery areas for many estuary- dependent marine species. A functional estuary sustains many estuarine and marine species, including sand prawns, kob and white steenbras to mention but a few local examples.” Based on research that is still being undertaken, de Villiers says that the condition of the Western Cape’s many estuaries varies. “Those adjacent to highly developed areas are showing signs of negative impacts, but we’ll have to wait until the work is published in 2018 to get an overall view.” CapeNature’s role in the management of estuaries in the Western Cape is to support the Department of the Environment and Developmental Planning with regards to the implementation of the Western Cape Coastal Management Programme. This is a co-operative approach supported by the Integrated Coastal Management Act. National Marine Month is celebrated every October in South Africa and creates awareness of South Africa’s marine and coastal environments and the benefits that our oceans bring to our nation.

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