Robben Island declared Marine Protected Area

Posted by Gabrielle Jacobs on 4 April 2019

Robben Island Museum has announced that the iconic island off the coast of the Cape is finally being declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

The announcement, which was posted on Twitter on Tuesday, 2 April, was issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). Robben Island used to house political prisoners, most notably former president and Struggle leader Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who was on Robben Island for 27 years, as well as Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, who had his own house separate from the main cells on the prison island.

Robben Island

Image: supplied/

Marine protected areas help conserve bodies of water such as oceans, seas, estuaries, and large lakes. South Africa has 20 MPAs, of which about five per cent are South African oceans. Throughout the world, however, our five per cent is a tiny fraction of the total four per cent of protected marina areas on the planet.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Robben Island is now a valuable educational centre for preserving culture, shining a light into the dark tunnels of South Africa’s troubled history. As a tourist attraction, it also bolsters the economy. But the island itself and its surrounding ocean habitat require protection. Certain bird populations can no longer be found there, and this is the case for some of the larger wildlife, too.

Together with the South African National Biodiversity Institute, the DEA will be working to preserve this island’s place in our history.


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