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

Cape Canyon and Associated Islands, Bays and Lagoon comprises a collection of special features, ecosystems and species that support a rich diversity and high productivity. Cape Canyon itself is the largest of two submarine canyons on the South African west coast and Langebaan is the only lagoon in the country. The area supports numerous threatened species and ecosystems, and many fragile, sensitive species.

 

Click here for the full EBSA description

 

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

As its name suggests, Cape Canyon, and Surrounding Islands, Bays and Lagoon has a particularly diverse 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. The criteria for which this EBSA ranks highly are: uniqueness and rarity, importance for life history stages, importance for threatened species and habitats, vulnerability and sensitivity, biological productivity and biological diversity. There are 32 ecosystem types represented, of which the mosaic (matrix of hard and soft substrate), rocky shores, rocky shelf and shelf edge, canyon and islands ecosystem types contain fragile species that are especially sensitive to damage. The lagoon also supports a number of bird species and provides shelter and nursery functions for many fish and invertebrates. Kelp forests also contribute to the nursery function of the EBSA and are also relatively sensitive to disturbance.

 

Cape Canyon and Surrounding Islands, Bays and Lagoon proportion of area in each ecological condition category.

 

Cape Canyon, and Surrounding Islands, Bays and Lagoon is mostly in good (17%) or fair (40%) ecological condition. However, just less than half the area (43%) is in poor ecological condition, largely along the shelf edge and in the shallower parts of the EBSA. Consequently, the bulk of the offshore extent is either Endangered (17%) or Vulnerable (47%), with the Endangered types along the shore or around the shelf edge. However, there are many ecosystem types that are Least Concern that cover a third (36%) of the EBSA.

 

 
 Cape Canyon and Surrounding Islands, Bays and Lagoon proportion of area in each ecosystem threat status category.

 

Cape Canyon and Surrounding Islands, Bays and Lagoon 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 almost an order of magnitude from 1.1% to 8.4%. These new MPAs cover the Benguela Muds in the north west, a portion of Cape Canyon, and Robben Island. Existing protection was and is afforded to Langebaan Lagoon, Jutten, Malgas and Marcus Islands and Sixteen Mile Beach, and to Rocherpan in St Helena Bay.

 

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

Cape Basin Abyss

LC

PP

100.0

0.0

0.0

Cape Bay

EN

MP

0.0

5.5

94.5

Cape Boulder Shore

VU

MP

4.8

35.2

60.1

Cape Exposed Rocky Shore

VU

MP

4.3

31.5

64.3

Cape Island

EN

MP

3.3

15.9

80.8

Cape Kelp Forest

VU

MP

1.7

24.3

74.0

Cape Lower Canyon

VU

NP

6.5

56.3

37.1

Cape Mixed Shore

VU

MP

5.0

40.0

54.9

Cape Rocky Inner Shelf

VU

MP

0.0

61.4

38.6

Cape Rocky Mid Shelf Mosaic

VU

MP

0.4

55.8

43.8

Cape Sandy Inner Shelf

VU

MP

26.2

3.8

69.9

Cape Sheltered Rocky Shore

EN

PP

1.6

5.0

93.4

Cape Upper Canyon

EN

MP

0.0

32.8

67.2

Cape Very Exposed Rocky Shore

NT

WP

15.4

73.5

11.1

Cool Temperate Estuarine Lagoon

VU

MP

99.5

0.5

0.0

Cool Temperate Estuarine Lake

EN

PP

0.0

0.0

100.0

Cool Temperate Predominantly Open

EN

NP

0.7

24.5

74.8

Namaqua Sandy Mid Shelf

LC

PP

0.0

100.0

0.0

Southeast Atlantic Lower Slope

LC

NP

95.1

4.9

0.0

Southeast Atlantic Mid Slope

LC

PP

0.0

100.0

0.0

Southeast Atlantic Upper Slope

LC

PP

0.0

4.7

95.3

Southern Benguela Dissipative Intermediate Sandy Shore

LC

WP

85.9

9.9

4.1

Southern Benguela Dissipative Sandy Shore

LC

WP

87.6

4.8

7.7

Southern Benguela Intermediate Sandy Shore

NT

PP

51.3

26.0

22.7

Southern Benguela Muddy Shelf Edge

EN

MP

0.0

0.0

100.0

Southern Benguela Outer Shelf Mosaic

LC

NP

0.0

71.2

28.8

Southern Benguela Reflective Sandy Shore

EN

MP

5.0

30.4

64.6

Southern Benguela Rocky Shelf Edge

VU

MP

0.5

30.7

68.9

Southern Benguela Sandy Outer Shelf

LC

PP

0.3

63.7

36.0

Southern Benguela Sandy Shelf Edge

VU

PP

0.0

0.0

100.0

St Helena Bay

VU

NP

0.0

52.9

47.1

Other Features

  • Fragile habitat-forming species, and other unique and potentially vulnerable benthic communities, including species such as cold-water corals and brittle stars
  • Seabirds, including several threatened species and Marine IBAs
  • Seals and seal colonies
  • Foraging cetaceans
  • Spawning and nursery habitat for Cape hakes

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Relevant Pressures and Activities (impact, extent)

  • There are 22 pressures present in this EBSA, of which shipping and tuna pole fishing are the only ones that cover the entire EBSA extent, and have the highest cumulative pressure profile.
  • Key pressures in this EBSA that most directly impact the features for which the EBSA is described include: small pelagics fishing, offshore trawling, linefishing (commercial and recreational), benthic (hake) longlining, and gillnetting. These activities will need to be managed particularly well in order to protect the fragile benthic biodiversity, fish assemblages, and spawning and nursery areas that in turn support top predators, for which this EBSA is recognised. For all of these pressures, the larger portion of the activity is located in the Impact Management Zone.
  • Sixteen of the 22 pressures each comprise <1% of the EBSA pressure profile, including: alien invasive species, west coast rock lobster harvesting, ports and harbours, coastal disturbance, wastewater discharge, pelagic longlining, coastal development, abalone harvesting, kelp harvesting, beach seining, mariculture, subsistence harvesting, naval dumping (ammunition), recreational shore angling, and oil and gas (exploration and production).
  • Activities in South Africa that are not present in this EBSA include: mining (prospecting and mining), dredge spoil dumping, mean annual runoff reduction, midwater trawling, oyster harvesting, prawn trawling, shark netting, south coast rock lobster harvesting, squid fishing and inshore trawling.

 

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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 oil and gas (exploration and production) 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 nine MPAs that are wholly or partially within the EBSA: Rocherpan MPA; Langebaan Lagoon MPA; Sixteen Mile Beach MPA; Malgas Island MPA; Marcus Island MPA; Jutten Island MPA; Benguela Mud MPA; Cape Canyon MPA; and Robben Island MPA. The activities permitted within these MPAs are not considered as part of the EBSA management recommendations because these are as per their respective gazetted regulations, which are available here: Langebaan Lagoon MPA; Sixteen Mile Beach MPA; Malgas Island MPA; Marcus Island MPA; Jutten Island MPA; Benguela Mud MPACape Canyon MPA; and Robben Island 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.

 

Even though almost 80% of the country’s mariculture takes place within this EBSA, it all falls within the proposed Impact Management Zone, and thus is recommended to continue in the EBSA with appropriate management as a Consent activity. It currently does not exist in the Conservation Zone and is thus recommended to be Prohibited in this zone. Gillnetting and beach seining in the EBSA also comprise a substantial proportion of the national footprint for these activities, and are recommended to continue as Consent activities in both EBSA zones, subject to careful controls in the Conservation Zone particularly. Similarly, more than a third of the country’s tuna pole fishing takes place in the EBSA but it is recommended to continue as a Consent activity in both zones. Other activities relating to biological resource use that have more than 10% of the national footprint within the EBSA and are proposed as Consent activities include: small pelagic fishing, kelp harvesting, abalone harvesting, west coast rock lobster harvesting, benthic (hake) longline fishing, and offshore trawling. Similar Consent activities that comprise less than 10% of the national footprint include subsistence harvesting and linefishing (commercial and recreational) and recreational shore angling. The bulk of the footprint of these extractive activities are in the Impact Management Zone. Where these activities do not currently exist in the Conservation Zone (recreational shore angling) or are incompatible with the management objectives of the Conservation Zone (ports and harbours, offshore trawling), they are recommended to be Prohibited in this zone.

Dumping ammunition at sea historically occurred within the EBSA, but is no longer an active activity in South Africa. The sites where ammunition was dumped are within the Conservation Zone where it is listed as a Consent activity. The EBSA includes the major Saldanha Bay Port and several minor harbours within the Impact Management Zone. Port and harbour activities should be carefully managed to avoid unacceptable impacts on adjacent Conservation Zones. Particularly, careful management of mariculture operations and ports and harbours are necessary to avoid the introduction of additional alien invasive species. General ship movement can continue in both the Conservation and Impact Management Zone under current legislation. Shipping is recommended to continue in both the Conservation and Impact Management Zone under current general rules and legislation. Thus, in all cases, 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 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, estuarine management plans and wastewater management regulations 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 ongoing research on the distributions of fragile, sensitive and vulnerable habitat-forming species in the area, although it is unlikely to have bearing on the revised boundaries. Otherwise, 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 Robben Island MPA and Cape Canyon 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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