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 | Research Needs & Future Process

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EBSA overview

Orange Seamount and Canyon Complex is an area of high habitat heterogeneity that includes Tripp Seamount and a shelf-indenting canyon. Consequently, it’s a persistent hotspot of demersal fish biodiversity. It’s at the eastern limit of the Benguela upwelling on the outer shelf, so productivity is moderate. There are three threatened ecosystem types in this area, with vast portions that are still in a natural state.

Click here for the full EBSA description


Note: Given that this is a transboundary EBSA, the status assessment is done for the EBSA as a whole, but analysis of pressures, proposed zonation and recommended management is split at the national borders to account for the differences in types of pressures and national management options, with each country responsible for EBSA management in their own jurisdiction only. This page presents the management recommendations for the Namibian portion of the EBSA.


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

Orange Seamount and Canyon Complex 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: importance for threatened species and habitats, biological diversity, and naturalness. There are 11 ecosystem types represented, of which the seamount, canyon and rocky shelf ecosystem types contain fragile species that are sensitive to damage. Given the high habitat heterogeneity, from the seamount to canyon, and spanning the shelf edge and slope, the site supports diverse communities and is a persistent hotspot for demersal fish. In South Africa, it’s one of the only places where two threatened ecosystem types are in a natural or near-natural state.


Orange Seamount and Canyon Complex proportion of area in each ecological condition category.


Orange Seamount and Canyon Complex is largely in good ecological condition (73%), with some portions that are in fair (18%) and poor (11%) ecological condition. Consequently, most of the area is Least Concern (81%), with some areas along the shelf edge being Endangered (10%) and Vulnerable (9%).


Orange Seamount and Canyon Complex proportion of area in each ecosystem threat status category.


Orange Seamount and Canyon Complex proportion of area in a Marine Protected Area (MPA).


Protection of features in MPAs on the South African side has been considerably expanded and strengthened following the proclamation of the Operation Phakisa MPA network, with the EBSA area within reserves increasing by an order of magnitude from no protection to 6% of the overall EBSA extent (which is 20% of the South African portion of the EBSA extent). In Namibia, the EBSA extent is split between no protection (36%) and partial protection (34%). Thus overall, 40% of the EBSA has some form of protection, and 60% is not protected. Strengthening protection in the EBSA is critical because most ecosystem types are either poorly or not protected.

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


Threat Status

Protection Level

Condition (%)




Ecosystem Types

Namaqua Outer Shelf






Namaqua Shelf Edge






Namib Lower Slope






Namib Seamount






Namib Upper Slope






Southeast Atlantic Lower Slope






Southeast Atlantic Mid Slope






Southeast Atlantic Upper Slope






Southern Benguela Rocky Shelf Edge






Southern Benguela Sandy Outer Shelf






Southern Benguela Sandy Shelf Edge






Other Features

  • Persistent hotspot of demersal fish biodiversity
  • Canyon
  • Fragile species associated with rocky shelf edge, canyon and seamount



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.


Relevant Pressures and Activities (impact, extent)

  • Both countries have five key activities operating in this EBSA that target similar resources and/or have the same impact on the EBSA features. Shipping is the only activity that covers the entire EBSA extent and has the highest cumulative pressure profile in both countries.
  • In Namibia, key pressures that most directly impact the features for which the EBSA is described include: commercial hake trawling (general, wet and freezer), pelagic longlining, tuna pole fishing, monkfish fishing, and shipping. These various fisheries will need to be managed particularly well in order to protect the fragile benthic biodiversity and fish assemblages for which this EBSA is recognised. In almost all cases, the greater portion of each fishery is located in the Impact Management Zone.
  • Pressures that don’t occur in the EBSA but are present in Namibia include: ammunition and other dumping, benthic longlining, boat-based linefishing, boat-based recreational fishing, channel dredging, crab harvesting, dredge-spoil dumping, mariculture and guano harvesting, midwater trawling (horse mackerel), ports, port anchorage areas, rock lobster harvesting, salt pans, shipping refuge (disabled ships), shore-based fishing, and wastewater discharge.


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.



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 Biodiversity Conservation Zone and an Environmental Impact Management Zone, both comprising several areas within the EBSA. The aim of the Biodiversity 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 are incompatible with the management objective of this zone. If the activity is permitted, it would require alternative Biodiversity Conservation Zones or offsets to be identified. If this is not possible, it is recommended that the activity is Prohibited. Where possible and appropriate, the Biodiversity Conservation Zones should be considered for formal protection e.g., Marine Protected Areas or Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (OECM). The aim of the Environmental 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 that have significant biodiversity impacts should be strictly controlled and/or regulated. Within this zone, ideally 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 Biodiversity Conservation Zone was designed deliberately to avoid conflicts with existing activities. It also includes one MPA that is wholly within the EBSA: Orange Shelf Edge MPA. The activities permitted within this MPA are not considered as part of the EBSA management recommendations because these are as per the gazetted regulations.


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.

Protection of features in the rest of the Conservation Zone may require additional Marine Protected Area declaration/expansion. Other effective conservation measures should also be applied via Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) 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 Biodiversity Conservation and Environmental 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

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.


Tuna pole fishing in this EBSA comprises more than 10% of the national footprint of this activity, and is almost exclusively in the Impact Management Zone. This is a non-destructive and selective fishery and is recommended to continue in both zones as a Consent activity. Commercial bottom trawling for hake (wet, freezer, general) and monkfish is conversely a destructive activity and is incompatible with the management objectives with the Conservation Zone. It is therefore recommended to be Prohibited in that zone, but could be accommodated as a Consent activity in the Impact Management Zone. Pelagic longlining for species such as tuna is not a destructive fishery and is therefore recommended to continue as a Consent activity in both EBSA zones. Note, though, that this fishery often has high bycatch rates, and mitigation measure to limit impacts are recommended to be included as part of the regulations and controls for this activity, especially in the Conservation Zone. Shipping can continue in both the Conservation and Impact Management Zones under current general rules and legislation, however, there might need to be some control and regulation for shipping lanes in the Conservation Zone, where it is recommended to be a Consent activity. 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.


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. This is particularly important because the EBSA is adjacent to Namibia’s Kudu gas field, and the area is subject to ongoing oil and gas exploration.


Future Process

There needs to be full operationalisation and practical implementation of the Orange Shelf MPA, including a management plan, staffing, and resources. There also needs to be full operationalisation and practical implementation of the proposed zoning in South Africa and Namibia’s marine spatial plans, with gazetted management regulations following the proposed management recommendations outlined above. MPA expansion within the EBSA should be explored, with relevant areas included into focus areas that can be considered further in a dedicated MPA expansion process with adequate and meaningful stakeholder engagement. Regional alignment through the BCC should continue, which could also facilitate exploration of transboundary MPAs.