EBSA Status Assessment and Management Recommendations

Ecological Condition, Threat Status, Current Protection and Key Features in the EBSA

Relevant Pressures and Activities (impact, extent) | Management Interventions Needed for the EBSA

Activity Evaluation Per Zone: Zoning Feasibility | Back to the Namibian EBSA status and management home page

 

  

 

EBSA overview

Namibe is a transboundary area of elevated productivity resulting from the outflow of the Kunene River into the ocean, a lagoon at the river mouth, seamounts, canyons, and the Tigres island-bay complex – all unique or rare features. It comprises a highly diverse collection of species and habitats in very close proximity, many of which are also threatened. The EBSA also supports key life-history stages of many species.

 

Click here for the full EBSA description

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Ecological Condition, Threat Status, Current Protection and Key Features in the EBSA

Namibe is a transboundary EBSA between Angola and Namibia that has a myriad of features and ecosystem types that need to be protected for the area to maintain the characteristics that give it its EBSA status. The criteria for which this EBSA ranks highly are: uniqueness and rarity; importance for life-history stages; biological productivity; and biological diversity. There are nine different ecosystems represented which includes various shore and shelf types, and the EBSA includes key features such as the Kunene River mouth and associated lagoon, the Tigres Island-Bay complex, seamounts and canyons. Namibe comprises a highly diverse collection of species and habitats in very close proximity, many of which are also threatened, with unique and other features that promote high productivity. In turn this drives importance of the area for supporting the life-histories of key species, such as providing foraging, breeding and resting habitats for seals, fish, turtles, and migratory and resident birds.

 

Namibe proportion of area in each ecological condition category.

 

Namibe is in good (30%) to fair (61%) ecological condition, with only 9% considered to be in poor ecological condition. Seven of the nine ecosystem types represented are Least Concern, which comprise 89% of the EBSA extent. There are two threatened ecosystem types: the Endangered Cunene Outer Shelf and Vulnerable Cunene Shelf Edge that respectively comprise 6% and 5% of the EBSA. These are located on the outer shelf to shelf edge between -150 m and -1500 m, mainly in the south. Five ecosystem types are Well Protected, three are Moderately Protected, and one is Not Protected.

 

 Namibe proportion of area in each ecosystem threat status category.

 

Namibe proportion of area in a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

There are no MPAs in the area; however, the entire EBSA extent is contiguous with terrestrial reserves in both countries: Iona National Park in Angola, and Skeleton Coast National Park in Namibia. The majority of the EBSA is not protected (89%), but there are is partial protection through inshore trawl restrictions in the Namibian section of the EBSA (10% of the EBSA extent).

Threat status, protection level and ecological condition of ecosystem types in the EBSA. Other key features are also listed.

Feature

Threat Status

Protection Level

Condition (%)

Good

Fair

Poor

Ecosystem Types

Cunene Dissipative-Intermediate Sandy Beach

LC

WP

100.00

0.00

0.00

Cunene Estuarine Shore

LC

WP

100.00

0.00

0.00

Cunene Inner Shelf

LC

MP

99.82

0.18

0.00

Cunene Inshore

LC

MP

100.00

0.00

0.00

Cunene Intermediate Sandy Beach

LC

WP

100.00

0.00

0.00

Cunene Mixed Shore

LC

WP

100.00

0.00

0.00

Cunene Outer Shelf

EN

MP

47.10

46.29

6.60

Cunene Reflective Sandy Beach

LC

WP

100.00

0.00

0.00

Cunene Shelf Edge

VU

NP

0.00

0.00

100.00

Other Features

  • Coastal wetlands associated with the Tigres Island-Bay complex
  • Numerous bird species
  • Lagoon associated with the Kunene River mouth
  • Cape fur seals
  • Turtles
  • Cetaceans
  • Fish spawning areas
  • Kunene Upwelling Cell

 

The proposed zonation and recommended management in transboundary EBSAs is split at the national borders, with each country responsible for EBSA management in their own jurisdiction only. The sections below present the proposed management of Namibia's portion of this EBSA.

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Relevant Pressures and Activities (impact, extent)

  • Of the 12 pressures present in this EBSA, five are present in the Namibian portion, including: shipping, midwater trawling (horse mackerel), pelagic longlining, commercial hake trawling, and crab harvesting, with the highest cumulative pressure intensity on the shelf edge. The footprint of these activities is largely in the Impact Management Zone, with higher intensities of fishing and shipping outside of the EBSA.
  • These activities will need to be managed particularly well in order to protect the estuarine habitat for associated birds and offshore ecosystem types, nursery habitats, and fish assemblages for which this EBSA is recognised. Given the critical role of the estuary in Namibe, activities upstream of the estuary will also need to be managed, e.g., to limit impacts of flow reduction caused by damming and abstraction, but this is beyond the scope of EBSA management and MSP.
  • Activities that take place in Namibia but are not present in the EBSA include: mining and salt mining, coastal development, monkfish fishing, line fishing, lobster harvesting, mariculture, oil and gas activities, tuna pole fishing, and seal harvesting. Note that small pelagics fishing used to be a key pressure in this area, but is no longer an active industry in Namibia.
  • Note also that this assessment of pressures is based on existing data. Where new, finer scale data have since become available, these are presented below (e.g., for shipping and combined fisheries) to enable more accurate recommendations for management of activities. Also, there are some emerging activities and activities for which no spatial data are available that are not included here, but are considered in the management recommendations for the EBSA, based on expert and industry information.

 

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Map of cumulative pressure from all activities in the EBSA and surrounds. Darker reds indicate higher pressure intensity.

 

Pressure (in arbitrary cumulative pressure units, CPUs) summed for each pressure in the EBSA, per proposed EBSA biodiversity zone, ranked left (highest) to right (lowest) by the overall relative importance of pressures in this EBSA.

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Management Interventions Needed for the EBSA

Improved place-based protection of EBSA features should be pursued. In support of this, the EBSA is divided into a Conservation Zone and an Impact Management Zone, both comprising several areas within the EBSA. The aim of the Conservation Zone is to secure core areas of key biodiversity features in natural / near-natural ecological condition. Strict place-based biodiversity conservation is thus directed at securing key biodiversity features in a natural or semi-natural state, or as near to this state as possible. Activities or uses that have significant biodiversity impacts should be prohibited. Where possible and appropriate these areas should be considered for formal protection e.g., Marine Protected Areas or other effective area-based conservation measures (OECM). The aim of the Impact Management Zone is to manage negative impacts on key biodiversity features where strict place-based measures are not practical or not essential. In this zone, the focus is management of impacts on key biodiversity features in a mixed-use area, with the objective to keep biodiversity features in at least a functional state. Activities or uses which have significant biodiversity impacts should be strictly controlled and/or regulated. Within this zone, there should be no increase in the intensity of use or the extent of the footprint of activities that have significant biodiversity impacts. Where possible, biodiversity impacts should be reduced. As far as possible, the Conservation Zone was designed deliberately to avoid conflicts with existing activities. Note that there are no marine protected areas in this EBSA; however, in Namibia it borders the terrestrial Skeleton National Park, and there is partial protection of the coastal marine environment conferred through inshore trawl restrictions.

 

Proposed zonation of the EBSA into Conservation (medium green) and Impact Management (light green) Zones. MPAs are overlaid in orange outlines, with the extent within the EBSA given in dark green. Click on each of the zones to view the proposed management recommendations.

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Protection of features in the Conservation Zone may require additional Marine Protected Area declaration/expansion. Other effective conservation measures should also be applied via Marine Spatial Planning to ensure that the existing activities/uses are appropriately controlled to ensure compatibility of activities with the environmental requirements for achieving the management objectives of the EBSA Conservation and Impact Management Zones. Further, no new pressures should be extended into the Conservation Zone, even if they currently occur in the Impact Management Zone of the EBSA.

 

Recommended compatibility (consent1 or prohibited2) of activities currently present in the EBSA3 in the Conservation and Impact Management Zones

2Prohibited: An activity which is not allowed or should not be allowed because it is incompatible with maintaining the biodiversity objectives of the zone.1Consent: An activity which can continue in this zone subject to specific regulation and control.

~Activity Prohibited but present in zone; need to confirm whether this needs to be kept, changed to Consent, or zone boundary changed.

3Note that activities present in Namibia that are not relevant to the EBSA have been excluded from the table (e.g., the harvested species does not occur in the area; or the industry operates at a depth outside the depth range of the EBSA).

 

Furthermore, no new activities that can negatively impact the environment should be allowed in the EBSA, and some activities present in the EBSA do not need to be managed by EBSA zoning and can continue as per the current regulations. There are also some pressures on biodiversity features within the EBSA that originate from activities outside of these EBSA or beyond the jurisdiction of MSP. In support of maintaining the ecological integrity of and benefits delivered by the key biodiversity features, these other activities need to be appropriately managed by complementary initiatives.

 

Recommendations for other activities outside the EBSA or the MSP management jurisdiction.

 

Activity Evaluation Per Zone: Zoning Feasibility

Proposed zonation of the EBSA, with the cumulative intensity footprint of activities within the EBSA (sorted highest to lowest) given relative to the national footprint of those activities to illustrate feasibility of management interventions.

The activities present in the EBSA all have a very small proportion of their national footprint within the EBSA. The greatest of these is for midwater trawling, which still comprises <5% of the national footprint. This activity is present in both zones, and is recommended to be a Consent activity in the Impact Management Zone, but Prohibited in the Conservation Zone. Large pelagics longlining is also a non-destructive fishery; however, it has high bycatch. Therefore, it is also recommended to be a Consent activity in the Impact Management Zone, where the greater amount of activity is present, and Prohibited in the Conservation Zone. Trawling is a destructive fishing practice and is therefore recommended to be Prohibited in both zones because it is not consistent with the management objectives of the EBSA. Notwithstanding, all of these activities are shown to be present in both EBSA zones; confirmation of the recommendation of Prohibited for these activities in the Conservation Zone is suggested, with alternative options to amend the Conservation Zone boundaries or to recommend that the activities are Consent in the Conservation Zone. Further, although not included in the pressure assessment, crab harvesting is also recognised as present in the Impact Management Zone. It is currently recommended to be Prohibited in the EBSA, although it is suggested to get confirmation of this recommendation and possibly to allow it as a Consent activity. Shipping is recommended to continue under current general rules and legislation. Other activities noted in the table of management recommendations above are either not currently present in the EBSA or are emerging activities; as far as possible, these are accommodated in the EBSA, depending on their compatibility with the management objectives of the two zones. Thus, the EBSA zonation has no or minimal impact on the national footprint for the listed marine activities.

There are also several activities that are largely outside the EBSA but have downstream impacts to the biodiversity within the EBSA, e.g., from mean annual runoff reduction, coastal development, coastal disturbance, and wastewater discharge. The impacts should be managed, but principally fall outside the direct management and zoning of the EBSA. These existing activities should ideally be dealt with in complementary integrated coastal zone management in support of the EBSA. For example, rehabilitation of degraded dunes and formalising access points could support improved habitat for nesting shorebirds, and enhanced benefits for coastal protection during storm surges. Similarly, improved estuary management through development of appropriate freshwater flow requirements, estuarine management plans and wastewater management regulations can improve the ecological condition of the surrounding marine environment, in turn, improving water quality. It is also recommended to consider developing and implementing Biodiversity Management Plans for the iconic/top predator species, e.g., seals, turtles, cetaceans and some of the seabirds and shorebirds in support of securing the biodiversity features for which the EBSA is recognised, where these are not already in place.

 

Research Needs

There are no specific research needs for this EBSA in addition to those for all EBSAs. However, it is noted that much more baseline research and ongoing monitoring is needed to ensure that the key features of the EBSA are well managed. Other research into the fluvial fan and plume is also recommended to better understand land-sea connectivity processes, and the effect that freshwater flow reduction could have on marine systems.

 

Future Process

It is likely that this EBSA will be the focus for status assessment and detailed transboundary management planning. 

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