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Cross-border cooperation saves marine life

21 March 2016

Removing the net. Photos by Judy Holtzhausen
Removing the net. Photos by Judy Holtzhausen
Thanks to the excellent cross-border cooperation between the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve in Mozambique and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in South Africa, a gill net measuring 20 x 3 metres was removed from the ocean, where it had been trapping marine life.
Divers from the marine reserve noticed the net, attached to a shallow reef, in South African waters and contacted their colleagues in iSimangaliso to ascertain whether it may be removed. A team of skippers, divers and volunteers then went out and cut loose the net. As the net was too heavy to drag by boat, it was left to drift south and fortunately it washed up on the cliffs of St Lucia 10 days later, when it was removed from the ocean.
The gill net washing ashore. Photo by Bruce Mann.
The gill net washing ashore. Photo by Bruce Mann.
The marine reserves form part of Africa's first marine transfrontier conservation area, the Ponta do Ouro- Kosi Bay TFCA. Cross-border cooperation has been the order of the day for many years. In 1994, the marine turtle-monitoring and conservation programme was started in the southern section of Mozambique’s coastline by Mr Pierre Lombard and his family, with support and mentorship from Dr George Hughes and Dr Scotty Kyle from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife in South Africa.
In 2009, the Mozambican government declared the marine protected area, stretching from Ponta do Ouro in the south to Maputo River Mouth in Maputo Bay in the north. The Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve stretches three nautical miles into the Indian Ocean and includes the waters around Inhaca Island and Portuguese Island. The reserve's turtle monitoring programme links up with the one across the border in South Africa's iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site, where turtles have been monitored since 1963.

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