What is the National Coastal and Marine Spatial Biodiversity Plan  |  Why was it developed and how is it envisaged to be used

Versions and updates  |  Feedback and Data Submissions |  Feedback on/from previous versions and meetings

Additional Resources


Click here for the National Coastal and Marine CBA Map Version 1.2 (12-04-2022)

CBA Map V1.2 and sea-use guidelines V 1.2 are now available


What is the National Coastal and Marine Spatial Biodiversity Plan?

The National Coastal and Marine Spatial Biodiversity Plan comprises a map of Critical Biodiversity Areas (CBA Map) and accompanying sea-use guidelines. The CBA Map presents a spatial plan for the marine environment, designed to inform planning and decision-making in support of sustainable development. The sea-use guidelines enhance the use of the CBA Map in a range of planning and decision-making processes by indicating the compatibility of various activities with the different biodiversity priority areas so that the broad management objective of each can be maintained.


Why was it developed and how is it envisaged to be used?

Operation Phakisa is a presidential initiative that was launched in 2014 to help fast-track implementation of the National Development Plan. More specifically, Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy aims to unlock the economic potential of South Africa's oceans, with a view to accelerating diversification and intensification of activities in the country’s coastal zone and oceans to grow the blue economy. Recognising the need to plan for these activities, South Africa is developing a national, multi-sector Marine Spatial Plan (MSP). [To watch a 5 min video on what MSP is, click here. There are options to watch the video in Afrikaans, English, isiXhosa and isiZulu].


The Coastal and Marine CBA Map aims to consolidate several past and present spatial assessment and planning initiatives (e.g., Marine Protected Areas and Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas) to provide a coherent map of the coastal and marine biodiversity priority areas in South Africa that require focused management measures to inform multi-sectoral processes, such as MSP, in the same way that CBA Maps with accompanying land-use guidelines inform Spatial Development Frameworks on land.


The National Coastal and Marine Spatial Biodiversity Plan is envisaged to provide inputs into national Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) as well as other planning and decision-making processes to ensure that marine biodiversity assets and ecological infrastructure are secured, and that development of the ocean economy is sustainable. It also includes contributions towards identifying focus areas for Marine Protected Area (MPA) expansion, which builds on work that supported the declaration of 20 new MPAs in 2019.


In addition, Spatial Biodiversity Plans can inform and streamline environmental decision-making, including Environmental Impact Assessments.


Versions and updates

Version 1.2 (Released 12-04-2022)

Version 1.1 (Released 01-06-2021) The CBA Map is available; the technical report will not be released pending the soon release of v1.2 (Dec 2021)

Version 1.0 (Released 26-02-2021) The CBA Map was made available with an interim release note (26-02-2020). Note the CBA Map has been replaced by Version 1.1.

Version 1 beta 2 (Released: 15-12-2020) The Version 1 Beta 2 technical report is available while the latest version is being prepared for release.

Version 1 beta 1 (Released: 4-11-2020)

Version 0 (Internally available for NBA 2018: 21-03-2019)


Feedback options

Please note, this is not the formal stakeholder engagement process mandated to be part of the National Marine Spatial Planning process. It is an additional step taken by the biodiversity sector to try and develop an input for the MSP process that comprises a connected, adequate, representative portfolio of biodiversity priority areas that is spatially efficient and in least conflict with other ocean-based activities to streamline the MSP negotiations to only those areas that are legitimately contested space. It is expected that the marine spatial biodiversity priorities will be refined both prior to and during the MSP negotatiations, and that compromises by all sectors will be needed during the MSP process. 

If you would like to provide feedback on the National Coastal and Marine Spatial Biodiversity Plan, particularly in terms of contributing data to advance the next iteration, the options are as follows:

  1. Online submission forms for:
  1. downloadable grid within which you can code data if this is a preferred format rather than sharing raw data and/or to allow for expert-derived input layers, to be submitted via the online data submission form above. (The grid is available on request)
  1. Online meeting engagements if the above to options are not sufficient. If you would like to set up a meeting, please email the technical team: our contact details are in the Coastal and Marine Spatial Biodiversity Plan Technical Report.

In particular, we would like to include additional biodiversity features, and strengthen conflict avoidance by including areas of high value for other activities at as fine a scale as possible. The higher the resolution of actual biodiversity features and areas of high-value for other activities, the more likely we are able to create a portfolio of marine spatial biodiversity priority areas that are in least conflict with other activities.



[passed] Deadline for inclusion of data in Version 1.2: 18 October 2021.

[passed] Deadline for inclusion of data in Version 1.1: 30 April 2021.

[passed] Deadline for inclusion of data in Version 1.0 (released): 31 January 2021. Version 1 (released) available 26 Feb 2021.

[passed] Deadline for inclusion of data in Version 1 (beta 2): 15 November 2020. Version 1 (beta 2) available in Dec 2020.