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EBSA overview  |  Delineation |  Summary of description updates  | Revised description

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EBSA overview

The Delagoa Shelf Edge, Canyons and Slope is a transboundary EBSA that includes the contiguous and near-pristine iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a Ramsar and World Heritage Site in South Africa, and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve in Mozambique. This EBSA supports a variety of fish, sharks, turtles, whales and other marine mammals by including their migratory routes, nursery areas, spawning/breeding areas, and foraging areas, and notably provides nesting habitat for Near Threatened loggerheads and Critically Endangered leatherbacks. Many of the species in the EBSA are threatened, such as: coelacanths, Seventy-Four seabream, marine mammals, turtles, and sharks. Potential vulnerable marine ecosystems include numerous submarine canyons, paleo-shorelines, deep reefs, and hard shelf edge, with reef-building cold-water corals also recovered at depths of more than 900 m. 

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Delineation

Open or collapse the legend as a sidebar by clicking the icon in the top left corner of the map. In the legend you can turn on/off the old/new extents of the EBSA. You can zoom in/out using the mouse or the +/- buttons on the map, and click on the features for more information.

 

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Summary of updates and revisions to the EBSA description

3 new references added; major revisions to the summary, introduction, Criterion 2: importance for life-history stages, Criterion 3: importance for threatened species, and Criterion 4: vulnerability and sensitivity. Proposed upgrade of Criterion 6: biological diversity from low to medium.

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Revised EBSA description

NOTE: Read this here, or download the Word document on the right sidebar.

 

General Information

Summary

This area is a transboundary site that extends south, north and offshore of the existing, contiguous Maputaland and St Lucia Marine Protected Areas in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a Ramsar and World Heritage Site (South Africa), and the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve (Mozambique). It is close to pristine, and captures the full extent of offshore benthic and pelagic habitat types, provides for coastal and offshore connectivity, and covers the habitats used by critically Endangered leatherback and near threatened loggerhead turtles during the nesting season. The area includes a key migratory route for humpback whales; a nursery area for bull sharks; spawning areas for fish (endemic sparids) and sharks; foraging areas for whale sharks, hawksbills and green turtles; and includes habitats supporting other threatened species, including: coelacanths, Seventy-Four seabream, marine mammals, and sharks. Potential vulnerable marine ecosystems include numerous submarine canyons, paleo-shorelines, deep reefs, and hard shelf edge with reef-building cold-water corals also recovered at depths of more than 900 m. No industrial fishing (longlining) is allowed within 20 NM of the coast, and recreational activities are regulated; however, key emerging pressures include petroleum exploration and a planned port in southern Mozambique.

 

Introduction of the area

The Delagoa Shelf Edge, Canyons and Slope extends south, north and offshore of the existing, contiguous Maputaland and St Lucia marine protected areas in iSimangaliso Wetland Park (a Ramsar and World Heritage Site, South Africa), and the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve (Mozambique). It captures the full extent of offshore benthic and pelagic habitat types, provides for coastal and offshore connectivity, and covers the important offshore habitats required by critically Endangered leatherback turtles during the breeding season. The area includes a key migratory route for Humpback Whales; foraging areas for whale sharks and juvenile green and hawksbill turtles; a nursery area for Bull Sharks; spawning areas for fish (especially endemic sparids) and sharks; and includes habitat of other threatened species, including coelacanths, Seventy-Four seabream, marine mammals and sharks. Potential vulnerable marine ecosystems include numerous submarine canyons, palaeo-shorelines, deep reefs, and hard shelf edge with reef-building cold-water corals in depths of more than 900 m. This area has been identified as a priority area by two different systematic biodiversity plans: a national plan to identify focus areas for offshore protection (Sink et al., 2011), and a fine-scale provincial plan for the province of KwaZulu-Natal (Harris et al., 2011).

 

Description of the location

EBSA Region

Southern Indian Ocean

 

Description of location

Approximately 26°S to 29°S and 32°E and 34°. This area extends south, north and offshore of the existing, contiguous Maputaland and St. Lucia marine protected areas in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (South Africa), and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve (Mozambique). The inland boundary is the highwater mark.

 

Geo-Location

SIO_7_EBSA.geojson

 

Area Details

Feature description of the area

The area meeting EBSA criteria is bounded by the highwater mark of a coastline characterized by the highest vegetated dunes in the world, with minimal terrigenous riverine input (see Sink et al., 2011 and Harris et al., 2011), making the area relatively natural and pristine. The deeper reaches are characterized by bioclastic and siliceous sediments intersected by Pleistocene sandstone reefs formed during changes in sea level. The continental shelf is intersected by canyons and is steep, falling to fine, unconsolidated sediment, and is bathed by the warm Agulhas Current, the largest of the western boundary currents.

 

Feature conditions and future outlook of the proposed area

South Africa’s National Biodiversity Assessment 2011 (Sink et al., 2012) indicated that most of this area was in good condition, but these analyses were confined to South Africa and excludes the Mozambique component of the Delagoa Shelf Edge, Canyons and Slope. The area is relatively pristine but emerging pressures include new mining and petroleum applications and a planned port development in southern Mozambique, both of which could cause potentially catastrophic impacts to the nesting loggerhead and leatherback turtles (see Harris et al., in review). The inshore reaches are subjected to limited fishing and regulated recreational activities (e.g., SCUBA diving).

 

References

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. 2012. Focus areas for additional marine biodiversity protection in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Unpublished Report - Jan 2012. Scientific Services, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife: Durban. Pp 62.

Geldenhuys, D.A. 2015. Quantitative fish survey of the submarine canyons of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. MSc dissertation. University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Harris JM, Livingstone T, Lombard AT, Lagabrielle E, Haupt P, Sink K, Mann B and Schleyer M. 2011 Marine Systematic Conservation Assessment and Plan for KwaZulu-Natal - Spatial priorities for conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity in KwaZulu-Natal. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

Harris, L.R., Nel, R., Oosthuizen, H., Meÿer, M., Kotze, D., Anders, D., McCue, S., Bachoo, S., 2015. Paper-efficient multi-species conservation and management are not always field-effective: The status and future of Western Indian Ocean leatherbacks. Biological Conservation 191, 383-390.

Harris, L.R., Nel, R., Oosthuizen, H., Meyer, M., Kotze, D., Anders, D., McCue, S., Bachoo, S. Managing conflicts between economic activities and threatened migratory marine species towards creating a multi-objective blue economy. Conservation Biology, in review.

Haupt P. 2010. Conservation assessment and plan for fish species along the KwaZulu-Natal coast. MSc Thesis, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa.

Lagabrielle E. 2009. Preliminary report: National Pelagic Bioregionalisation of South Africa. Cape Town: South African National Biodiversity Institute.

Lutjeharms JRE, Gründlingh M and Carter RA. 1989. Topographically induced upwelling in the Natal Bight. South African Journal of Science, 85(5): 310 -316.)

Lutjeharms JRE, Cooper J, Roberts M. 2000.Upwelling at the inshore edge of the Agulhas Current. Continental Shelf Research, 20(7): 737 – 761.

Taylor, F.E., Arnould, M.N., Bester, M.N, Crawford, R.J.M., Bruyn, P.J.N, Delords, K., Makhado, A.B., Ryan, P.G., Tosh, C.A. and Weimerskirchs, H., 2011. The seasonal distribution and habitat use of marine top predators in the Southern Indian Ocean, and implications for conservation.WWF report, South Africa.

Sink KJ, Attwood CG, Lombard AT, Grantham H, Leslie R, Samaai T, Kerwath S, Majiedt P, Fairweather T, Hutchings L, van der Lingen C, Atkinson LJ, Wilkinson S, Holness S, Wolf T. 2011. Spatial planning to identify focus areas for offshore biodiversity protection in South Africa. Unpublished Report. Cape Town: South African National Biodiversity Institute.

Sink K, Holness S, Harris L, Majiedt P, Atkinson L, Robinson T, Kirkman S, Hutchings L, Leslie R, Lamberth S, Kerwath S, von der Heyden S, Lombard A, Attwood C, Branch G, Fairweather T, Taljaard S, Weerts S, Cowley P, Awad A, Halpern B, Grantham H, Wolf T. 2012. National Biodiversity Assessment 2011: Technical Report. Volume 4: Marine and Coastal Component. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Pp 325

 

Other relevant website address or attached documents

SIO_7_EBSA-GIS shapefile.zip (/api/v2013/documents/A2ECA61B-EE6C-281A-98C4-47404787B99C/attachments/SIO_7_EBSA-GIS%20shapefile.zip)

 

Status of submission

Areas described as meeting EBSA criteria that were considered by the Conference of the Parties

 

COP Decision

dec-COP-12-DEC-22

 

Assessment of the area against CBD EBSA criteria

C1: Uniqueness or rarity Medium

Justification

The submarine canyons support a population of coelacanths (Latimeria chalumnae). The spotted legskate (Anacanthobatis marmoratus) is a rare species found in this area (Haupt 2010).

C2: Special importance for life-history stages of species High

Justification

The area includes habitats used by loggerhead and leatherback turtles during the nesting season (Vogt 2011, Harris et al., 2015). It also includes a component of the migration route followed by humpback whales; a nursery area for bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas); spawning areas for dusky shark (Carcharhinus obscurus) and King Mackerel (Scomber japonicas); spawning and nursery area for sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus; Sink et al., 2011, Ezemvelo KZNW Wildlife 2012); and foraging areas for juvenile hawksbill and green turtles that nest elsewhere in the Western Indian Ocean.

C3: Importance for threatened, endangered or declining species and/or habitats Medium

Justification

The Delagoa Shelf Edge, Canyons and Slope supports a myriad of threatened species. These include the critically Endangered Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae), Seventy-Four seabream (Polysteganus undulosus, Geldenhuys 2015), leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) and hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata); Endangered scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini), great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran), and green turtles (Chelonia mydas), Vulnerable sperm whales (Physeter microcephalus), smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena); and Near Threatened loggerhead turtles (Carettta caretta). It also includes numerous overexploited linefish species (sparids, sciaenids).

C4: Vulnerability, fragility, sensitivity, or slow recovery Medium

Justification

The area supports two species of reef-forming cold-water corals, and numerous submarine canyons. It is also important for vulnerable shark species with low fecundity; and for conservation-dependent turtles by supporting nesting of loggerheads and leatherbacks, and foraging of juvenile green and hawksbill turtles.

C5: Biological productivity Medium

Justification

Chlorophyll-a and sea temperature fronts contribute to variable and elevated productivity in this area (Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife 2012).

C6: Biological diversity High

Justification

This area includes the overlap between the Delagoa and Natal ecoregions and is considered an important transition zone (Sink et al., 2011, 2012, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife 2012); consequently, habitat heterogeneity and species diversity are both high.

C7: Naturalness High

Justification

This area is relatively pristine with almost no industrial fishing (pelagic longlining not permitted within 20 NM of the coast).

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