World Turtle Day is celebrated every year on May 23rd with the intention of spreading awareness to help conserve turtle populations.
There are only seven species of sea turtles on Earth, and all of them except two (the Flatback turtle and Kemp’s Ridley turtle) visit South Africa. Sadly, all five of the species that occur in South African waters appear on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, including the Green Turtle pictured.
In an attempt to conserve marine life and promote sustainability, 5 percent of South Africa’s oceans have been classified into 41 Marine Protected Areas. Marine Protected Areas help manage part of the marine environment to promote fisheries sustainability, keep marine ecosystems working properly, and protect the range of species living there, helping people to benefit from the ocean.
In South Africa, Marine Protected Areas are declared through the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act in order to manage and conserve its biodiversity. The National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008 provides further framework for co-ordinated and integrated management of the coastal zone by all spheres of government.