Supporting a marine protected area network in South African waters
Kerry Sink’s work involves designing and supporting the implementation of effective marine protected areas (MPAs).
Before 2017, MPAs covered less than half of 1% of South Africa’s waters, and more than 98% of the country’s ocean territory was under petroleum and mining leases. This lack of protection was the focus of a 2014 presidential initiative, Operation Phakisa, which committed South Africa to safeguarding 5% of its marine waters by 2019 and identifying an additional 5% for protection by 2020. Twenty-one MPAs were proposed as part of this initiative; to date, 20 have been created.
Sink used her Pew marine fellowship to ensure that the proposed MPA network was designed to effectively protect the nation’s marine biological diversity in alignment with ocean economy goals, including sustainable use of marine resources to support livelihoods and economic growth. She conducted independent research to define, map, and make others aware of critical areas where MPAs would be most helpful for conserving unique habitats, maintaining connectivity among marine species, and safeguarding ecosystem services while supporting a developing ocean economy. Sink’s research and outreach to stakeholders played a key role in South Africa’s declaration of a network of 20 new MPAs, which took effect on Aug. 1, 2019. The network represents 97% of South Africa’s current MPA coverage and a tenfold increase in ocean protection in the country.
To learn more about Sink, visit her bio online.