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Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve, the Mozambican component of Africa’s first transfrontier marine conservation area, has erected signage to further safeguard the delicate marine life and coral reefs. The signage was funded by the World Bank trough the Ministry of Tourism’s transfrontier conservation unit.
The sign boards clearly spell out the do’s and don’ts along the beach at the launching sites and also remind visitors that they are in a marine reserve. Many visitors have been coming to the area since before the marine reserve was proclaimed in 2009, thus they often need to be reminded that it is now a protected area.
The signage spells out what is allowed in the various zones, i.e. multiple-use area, restricted area and marine sanctuary, as well as remind visitors that driving along the beach is not allowed and neither are jet skis. The sign boards make it easy for visitors to see what activities are freely allowed, which ones need special permits and which ones are prohibited.
Finding a balance between tourism and protection in a fragile marine environment, can be a challenge. While the critically endangered turtles nesting along this coast are a major drawcard, uninformed tourists disturb the nesting cycle by shining lights on the turtles or using flashlights on their cameras.
The signage goes a long way in assisting the marine guards to encourage behaviour that is conducive to protecting the reserve’s rich diversity of marine life.