If you wish to provide feedback on the revised environmental ask for inclusion of this EBSA into the upcoming Marine Spatial Planning process, please fill in the survey form

Data used in the analyses below (ecological condition, threat status, protection, distribution of activities, cumulative pressure from activities) are from the National Biodiversity Assessment 2018: Marine Realm Assessment. See the NBA 2018 website for access to the report.

 

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 SA EBSA status and management home page

 

 

EBSA overview

Algoa to Amathole encompasses the likely biggest single collection of significant and special marine features in all of South Africa that also jointly support key ecological processes, including important land-sea connections. It is a productive, diverse area that contains rare and unique features and species, and is especially important for several threatened species, notably seabirds, that breed, rest and forage within the EBSA.

Click here for the full EBSA description

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

Algoa to Amathole has a particularly rich collection of features and ecosystem types that need to be protected for the area to maintain the features and processes that give it its EBSA status. There are 36 ecosystem types represented, of which the mosaics, rocky shores, rocky shelf and shelf edge, canyons and Amathole Lace Coral ecosystem types and contain fragile species that are especially sensitive to damage. The EBSA also includes Algoa Bay, four islands and several rocky islets, stromatolites, and several priority estuaries also include some sensitive species, contribute to numerous ecological functions, and contribute to a particularly rich diversity in this EBSA.

 

Algoa to Amathole proportion of area in each ecological condition category.

 

Algoa to Amathole is largely in good (32%) to fair (44%) ecological condition, with a quarter (24%) in poor ecological condition, mainly linked to the development and economic nodes at Port Elizabeth and Port Alfred. Consequently, the bulk of the offshore extent is either Vulnerable (42%) or Near Threatened (21%), with only a fraction (1%) that is Endangered, and the rest, Least Concern (36%). The Endangered ecosystem types cluster at the Kei mouth, and/or contain fragile species: Kei Fluvial Fan; Kei Reef Mosaic and Agulhas Sheltered Rocky Shore.

 

Algoa to Amathole proportion of area in each ecosystem threat status category.

 

Algoa to Amathole proportion of area in a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

 

Protection of features in MPAs has been considerably expanded and strengthened following the proclamation of the Operation Phakisa MPA network, with the EBSA area within reserves increasing by more than an order of magnitude from <2% to 28%. These new MPAs cover the eastern end of Algoa Bay, and offshore areas in Amathole, protecting key (fragile and/or threatened) species, important life-history stages and many ecosystem types.

 

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

Agulhas Boulder Shore

NT

WP

56.9

20.3

22.8

Agulhas Coarse Sediment Shelf Edge

VU

PP

36.0

31.0

33.0

Agulhas Dissipative Intermediate Sandy Shore

LC

WP

72.0

13.6

14.4

Agulhas Dissipative Sandy Shore

NT

WP

46.0

26.2

27.8

Agulhas Exposed Rocky Shore

VU

MP

23.5

19.1

57.4

Agulhas Exposed Stromatolite Rocky Shore

VU

PP

11.9

58.4

29.7

Agulhas Inner Shelf Mosaic

VU

MP

10.7

26.0

63.3

Agulhas Intermediate Sandy Shore

LC

MP

42.9

29.8

27.4

Agulhas Island

VU

WP

91.4

0.4

8.2

Agulhas Lower Canyon

LC

MP

57.8

42.2

0.0

Agulhas Mid Shelf Mosaic

NT

MP

11.0

81.4

7.7

Agulhas Mid Shelf Reef

VU

MP

0.0

15.8

84.2

Agulhas Mixed Shore

NT

MP

22.1

45.3

32.6

Agulhas Sandy Inner Shelf

VU

MP

16.4

67.3

16.2

Agulhas Sandy Mid Shelf

NT

MP

2.5

58.0

39.5

Agulhas Sandy Outer Shelf

VU

PP

12.4

46.7

41.0

Agulhas Stromatolite Mixed Shore

VU

MP

12.4

61.7

25.9

Agulhas Upper Canyon

VU

WP

20.7

79.3

0.0

Agulhas Very Exposed Rocky Shore

VU

MP

18.9

77.8

3.3

Agulhas Very Exposed Stromatolite Rocky Shore

NT

MP

98.1

1.9

0.0

Amathole Hard Shelf Edge

VU

WP

21.9

75.6

2.5

Amathole Lace Corals

NT

MP

30.8

69.2

0.0

Eastern Agulhas Bay

VU

MP

10.8

29.0

60.2

Kei Fluvial Fan

EN

MP

0.1

65.7

34.2

Kei Reef Mosaic

EN

MP

0.0

21.7

78.3

Natal Deep Shelf Edge

LC

MP

70.0

30.0

0.0

Natal Lower Canyon

LC

WP

99.9

0.1

0.0

Southwest Indian Mid Slope

LC

PP

78.6

21.4

0.0

Southwest Indian Upper Slope

LC

WP

79.8

20.2

0.0

Warm Temperate Large Fluvially Dominated

VU

PP

1.5

59.4

39.1

Warm Temperate Large Temporarily Closed

VU

PP

23.7

40.8

35.6

Warm Temperate Micro-estuary

NA

NA

61.1

30.2

8.7

Warm Temperate Predominantly Open

VU

PP

3.9

43.5

52.6

Other Features

  • Numerous cetacean species, including mother-calf pairs of whales during particular seasons and the largest pods of bottlenose dolphins in the world
  • Numerous seabird species, many of which are threatened, notably the African penguin colony at St Croix Island and the Cape gannet colony at Bird Island
  • Seals, sharks and turtles
  • Fragile reef-associated species, e.g., corals and sponges
  • Stromatolites
  • Accumulations of surf diatoms
  • Sites where coelacanths are present
  • Critically Endangered localised endemic estuarine pipefish
  • Several priority estuaries

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Relevant Pressures and Activities (impact, extent)

  • There are 23 pressures present in this EBSA, of which shipping is the only one that covers the entire EBSA extent and has the highest cumulative pressure profile.
  • Key pressures in this EBSA that most directly impact the features for which the EBSA is described include: linefishing, harvesting south coast rock lobster harvesting, inshore and offshore trawling, squid fishing. There are also several other fisheries operating in the area, but these are less intensive and have a smaller footprint within the EBSA. The key pressures cover discrete portions of the EBSA, and are mostly concentrated in the shallower waters. These activities will need to be managed particularly well in order to protect the fragile benthic biodiversity, nursery habitats, and fish assemblages for which this EBSA is recognised. The larger portion of these activities is in the Impact Management Zone.
  • Coastal development, ports and harbours comprise small portions of the EBSA, but they are notable drivers of many of the other pressures that are present in the EBSA.
  • Thirteen of the 23 pressures each comprise <1% of the EBSA pressure profile, including: alien invasive species; mean annual runoff reduction; benthic (hake) longlining; coastal disturbance; coastal development; wastewater discharge; oil and gas (exploration and production); recreational shore angling; abalone harvesting; subsistence harvesting; mariculture; naval dumping (ammunition); and oyster harvesting.
  • Activities in South Africa that are not present in this EBSA include: mining (prospecting and mining); kelp harvesting; tuna pole fishing; gillnetting; west coast rock lobster harvesting; prawn trawling; shark netting; dredge spoil dumping; and beach seining.

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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. Note that pressures from alien invasive species to oyster harvesting each comprise <1% of the EBSA pressure profile.

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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 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 four MPAs that are wholly or partially within the EBSA: Sardinia Bay MPA; Addo Elephant National Park MPA; Amathole MPA; and Amathole Offshore MPA. Activities permitted within these MPAs are not considered as part of the EBSA management recommendations because these are given as per the respective gazetted regulations of the MPAs, which are available here: Sardinia Bay MPAAddo Elephant National Park MPAAmathole MPA; and Amathole Offshore MPA.

 

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.

Based on the compatibility of sea-use activities with the management objective of each EBSA zone (see table below, from the sea-use guidelines of the National Coastal and Marine Spatial Biodiversity Plan), it is recommended for MSP that compatible activities are managed as General activities, which are those that are permitted and regulated by current general rules and legislation. Activities that are conditional are recommended to be managed as Consent activities, which are those that can continue in the zone subject to specific regulations and controls, e.g., to avoid unacceptable impacts on biodiversity features, or to avoid intensification or expansion of impact footprints of uses that are already occurring and where there are no realistic prospects of excluding these activities. Activities that are not compatible are recommended to be Prohibited, where such activities are not allowed or should not be allowed (which may be through industry-specific regulations) because they are incompatible with maintaining the biodiversity objectives of the zone. These recommendations are subject to stakeholder negotiation through the MSP process, recognizing that there will likely need to be significant compromises among sectors. It is emphasized, as noted above, that if activities that are not compatible with the respective EBSA zones are 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.

 

List of all sea-use activities, grouped by their Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) zones, and scored according to their compatibility with the management objective of the EBSA’s Biodiversity Conservation Zone (i.e., Critical Biodiversity Area, CBA) and Environmental Impact Management Zone (i.e., Ecological Support Area, ESA). Activity compatibility is given as Y = yes, compatible, C = conditional or N = not compatible, with major activities that are present in the EBSA shaded in grey.

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 beyond the jurisdiction of MSP management to support securing key biodiversity features within the EBSA.

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Activity Evaluation Per Zone: Zoning Feasibility

[To be updated]

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.

 

Several of the country’s ports and harbours are located within this EBSA; however, all port infrastructure is within the Impact Management Zone. It is only the East London Port Control area that extends partly into the Conservation Zone. Port and harbour activities should be carefully managed to avoid unacceptable impacts on adjacent Conservation Zones. Particularly, careful management of ports and harbours and mariculture operations are necessary to avoid the introduction of additional alien invasive species. Mariculture in the EBSA is entirely within the Impact Management Zone and comprises a fifth of the national footprint of this activity; it is recommended to continue as a Consent activity, but is recommended to be Prohibited in the Conservation Zone because it does not currently occur within that EBSA zone.

Harvesting south coast rock lobster and abalone within this EBSA are important economic activities that comprises roughly a third to a fifth of the national footprint of those activities, the bulk of which is in the Impact Management Zone. Provision would be made for legal harvesting, with these recommended to be Consent activities. Commercial squid fishing is also an important activity within the EBSA, comprising of a third of the national footprint. It is similarly recommended to be accommodated as a Consent activity. Further, because the south coast rock lobster harvesting, abalone and squid fisheries are selective, these are recommended to continue as Consent activities within the Conservation Zone as well. Less than a fifth of the country’s midwater trawling occurs within the EBSA Impact Management Zone and is recommended to continue as a Consent activity. Other important commercial fisheries include inshore, midwater and offshore trawling, as well as small pelagics fishing and linefishing. Trawling fisheries are recommended to take place in the Impact Management Zone only because they are incompatible with the management objectives of the Conservation Zone, but small pelagics fishing and linefishing (commercial and recreational) are recommended to continue in both EBSA zones as Consent activities. The same is proposed for recreational shore angling and subsistence fishing: both are recommended to be Consent activities in the Conservation and Impact Management Zones.

Dumping of ammunition at sea historically occurred within the EBSA, and these sites fall exclusively within the Impact Management Zone; however, this activity no longer occurs in South Africa. Commercial oil and gas (exploration and production) also occur exclusively in the Impact Management Zone, where it is recommended to be a Consent activity; because it does not currently occur in the Conservation Zone, it is recommended to be Prohibited in that zone. The other activities that fall within this EBSA are very small component of the national footprint, and fall mostly within the Impact Management Zone where the activities could continue with relevant regulations and controls as Consent activities in both EBSA zones. Shipping is recommended to continue in both the Conservation and Impact Management Zones under current general rules and legislation. Thus, in all cases, the EBSA zonation has no or minimal impact on the national footprint of the listed marine activities.

The EBSA is further impacted by a range of other activities, like mean annual runoff reduction, wastewater discharge, coastal development and coastal disturbance, which largely originate from outside the EBSA. These impacts should be managed, but principally fall outside the direct management and zoning of the EBSA. These existing activities are proposed as Consent activities for both EBSA zones, recognising that they should ideally be dealt with in complementary integrated coastal zone management in support of the EBSA. For example, investment in eradicating the alien invasive species could aid in improving the ecological condition of rocky and mixed shores, improving benefits for subsistence and recreational harvesting, and 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 and estuarine management plans can improve the ecological condition of the surrounding marine environment, in turn, improving water quality and safe conditions for human recreation and mariculture.

 

Research Needs

There is substantial research and ongoing monitoring within Algoa to Amathole already, especially in Algoa Bay. There are no specific research needs for this EBSA in addition to those for all EBSAs.

 

Future Process

Portions of the EBSA have been gazetted for inclusion into the Amathole Offshore MPA and the Addo Elephant Park MPA. It is unclear if this EBSA will be subject to detailed attention in the MARISMA EBSA status assessment and management options workplan.

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