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

Childs Bank and Shelf Edge is a unique submarine bank feature on the western continental margin of South Africa, rising from ‑400 m to ‑180 m. The area is known to support structurally complex cold-water corals, hydrocorals, gorgonians and glass sponges; species that are particularly fragile, sensitive and vulnerable to disturbance, and recover slowly. The area is still in good ecological condition, and in a natural state.

Click here for the full EBSA description

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

Childs Bank and Shelf Edge is focussed on key geological features (Childs Bank carbonate mound) and threatened 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, vulnerability and sensitivity, and naturalness. There are seven ecosystem types represented, notably including the Childs Bank Coral ecosystem type and other rocky or and mosaic shelf and shelf edge ecosystem types that contain fragile, habitat-forming structurally complex cold-water corals, hydrocorals, gorgonians and glass sponges that are especially sensitive to damage.

Childs Bank and Shelf Edge proportion of area in each ecological condition category.

 

Childs Bank and Shelf Edge is mostly in good ecological condition (73%), with some portions that are fair (22%), and only 5% in poor ecological condition. Consequently, the bulk of the offshore extent is either Least Concern (80%) or Vulnerable (20%). The more impacted and degraded areas are located on the shelf edge, and thus this is where the threatened ecosystem types are found, as well as around half of Childs Bank.

 

 Childs Bank and Shelf Edge proportion of area in each ecosystem threat status category.

 

Childs Bank and Shelf Edge proportion of area in a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

 

Protection of Childs Bank in MPAs was afforded for the first time following the proclamation of the Operation Phakisa MPA network, with the EBSA area within reserves increasing from no protection to 9%. The new MPA covers most of Childs Bank itself, increasing the protection level of two ecosystem types to Well Protected. However, there are five other ecosystem types in this EBSA that are either Poorly Protected, or are Not Protected.

 

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

Childs Bank Coral

VU

WP

27.3

15.0

57.7

Childs Bank Plateau

LC

WP

78.0

18.3

3.7

Namaqua Muddy Sands

LC

NP

100.0

0.0

0.0

Southern Benguela Outer Shelf Mosaic

LC

NP

95.6

3.2

1.2

Southern Benguela Sandy Outer Shelf

LC

PP

85.9

13.8

0.2

Southern Benguela Sandy Shelf Edge

VU

PP

2.9

94.7

2.4

Southern Benguela Shelf Edge Mosaic

LC

NP

79.9

8.8

11.3

Other Features

  • Childs Bank
  • Fragile, habitat-forming structurally complex cold-water corals, hydrocorals, gorgonians and glass sponges
  • Feeding area for tuna
  • Blue and mako sharks

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Relevant Pressures and Activities (impact, extent)

  • There are six pressures present in this EBSA, of which shipping is the only one that covers the entire EBSA extent (although tuna pole fishing spans almost the entire EBSA) 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: offshore trawling, tuna pole fishing, benthic (hake) longlining, and oil and gas (exploration and production). These activities will need to be managed particularly well in order to protect the fragile benthic biodiversity, fish and shark assemblages for which this EBSA is recognised. For all of these pressures, the larger portion of the activity is located in the Impact Management Zone.
  • Mean annual runoff reduction is the only pressure that comprises <1% of the EBSA pressure profile, and likely has little impact on the key biodiversity features described in this EBSA.
  • Activities in South Africa that are not present in this EBSA include: abalone harvesting, alien invasive species, beach seining, coastal development, coastal disturbance, dredge spoil dumping, gillnetting, kelp harvesting, linefishing (commercial and recreational), mariculture, midwater trawling, mining (prospecting and mining), naval dumping (ammunition), oyster harvesting, pelagic longlining, ports and harbours, prawn trawling, recreational shore angling, shark netting, small pelagics fishing, south coast rock lobster harvesting, squid fishing, subsistence harvesting, inshore trawling, wastewater discharge, and west coast rock lobster harvesting; noting that some of these are coastal pressures that do not apply to offshore EBSAs.

 

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 oil and gas (exploration and production) and mean annual runoff reduction 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 one MPA that is wholly within the EBSA: Child Banks 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.

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.

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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.

Of the activities that are present in the EBSA, a very limited proportion of their respective national footprints is within the EBSA extent, the bulk of which are in the Impact Management Zone. Offshore trawling has the highest proportion (<10%) of the national footprint within the EBSA, and is recommended to continue in the Impact Management Zone as a Consent activity. This activity is not compatible with the management objectives of the Conservation Zone, and is thus recommended to be Prohibited in that zone. Benthic (hake) longlining and tuna pole fishing are recommended to continue as Consent activities in both EBSA zones. The commercial interests of oil and gas (exploration and production) are accommodated, where it is recommended to be a Consent activity in both EBSA zones. 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.

 

Research Needs

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 proposed Childs Bank 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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