Marine Month: The Ocean Needs You
During the month of October South Africa celebrates Marine Month to create awareness of our marine and coastal environments and to share the benefits that our ocean brings to our nation.
Our oceans play a pivotal role in our daily lives and protecting it – along with all its creatures – is of utmost importance.
Well to name a few, did you know that the ocean generates most of the oxygen we breathe? It also helps to feed us, it regulates our climate, it is the primary producer of moisture to the atmosphere, which leads to rain, it absorbs carbon, it is inspiring, therapeutic and the ocean is also a big factor when it comes to global trade.
Whether you indulge in seafood or not, swim in the ocean, tan on a beach or just enjoy to wiggle your toes into the sand, the ocean is important and this is something that Nelson Mandela Bay has realised 17 years ago when Humewood Beach became one of the first beaches in South Africa (along with Grotto Beach in Hermanus) to obtain the Blue Flag status in 2000. Humewood Beach has kept this status to this day and Hobie and Kings Beach are also Blue Flag Beaches.
What is a Blue Flag Beach you wonder?
Blue Flag is an international annual award which focuses on the environmental management of our coastline and coastal waters to help tourism growth and development. Although it’s a voluntary eco-label, it’s become an international symbol of quality for beaches, boats and marinas that meet a standard of excellence in the areas of safety, amenities, cleanliness, environmental information and environmental management.
What you can do this Marine Month
Within Marine Month (celebrated annually in October) there is also African Penguin Awareness Day (7 Ocotober), during which SANCCOB in Cape Recife released 7 penguins back into the ocean, and there is National Marine Week from the 9th until the 15th of Ocotober(celebrated in the second week of October).
Know your seafood with SASSI
Familiarise yourself with what seafood is green-, orange- or red-listed; SASSI (Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) created an app for that so that you can always know whether or not you’re making a sustainable seafood choice when dining at your favourite restaurant. Through the app’s traffic light system you’ll know whether you can eat something with a clear conscience (green), should think twice (orange) or avoid it altogether (red).
Did you know that sardines have now changes from the green list to the orange list?
Keep our beaches clean
Always take your trash with you when you visit the beach and also pick up the trash of someone else in honour of the sea’s presence. You can help the ocean by making a point of it to “take one for the sea” whenever you’re visiting the beach. Let’s keep our beaches clean; whether or not our beaches in Nelson Mandela Bay continue to have a Blue Flag status is entirely up to us and how we care for the ocean.
Remember to keep our estuaries clean as well (such as Swartkops); it is just as important as Marine Protected Areas as it provides a vital link between catchments and the ocean.
Did you know that straws and cigarette butts are the most common items found in the ocean and on the beach?
Stick to your limits
If you are a recreational fisherman stick to rules when it comes to minimum or maximum size as well as bag limits; the rules are there for a reason. Don’t ever think that “just one more” won’t make a difference. Click here to download the pamphlet from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The pamphlet summarizes the regulations that apply to recreational fishing in South Africa’s marine and estuarine environments and scuba-diving and personal watercraft (PWC) use in Marine Protected Areas.
Support our local African Penguin and Marine Bird Sanctuary
SANCCOB (previously known as SAMREC) is a marine bird rehabilitation and education centre that is situated in Cape Recife Nature Reserve with the goal to rescue, rehabilitate, release as well as educate the public about the plight of the African Penguin. According to SANCCOB October is the beginning of chick season and nearly 500 African penguin chicks are admitted during this period. By visit SANCCOB and joining a tour, your small admission fee can help to feed a penguin (there are other options for donations as well). Read more here to see how you can help.
Use fewer plastic products
Plastic often ends up in the ocean (especially things like straws, bottles, plastic bags) and it contributes to habitat destruction and it can kill thousands of marine animals as well. By doing small things such as using reusable shopping bags, mugs and cup and saying no to straws and other unnecessary plastic you can help the ocean.
Respect ALL marine life
Whether you are in or out of the water, always be aware of the marine life around you. Never feed animals human food and if an animal has made it to shore, never go into selfie-mode, rather help the animal back into the water (if it is possible and if the animal is not injured). Close human encounters can cause tremendous stress for animals.
What the Bay’s beaches offer visitors
There are plenty of things to do in Nelson Mandela Bay and now that summer is making a beeline for our shores, why not dip your toes into one or more of the activities?
With a Nelson Mandela Bay Pass Card you can also get more ocean bang for your buck.
- Go dolphin- and whalewatching.
- Go on a cruise.
- Go diving.
- Go snorkeling.
- Go surfing.
- Go kayaking.
- Go swimming.
- Go kitesurfing.
Visit www.nmbt.co.za for more information.
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