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

Kingklip Corals is collection of several newly discovered benthic features that seem to be connected: Secret Reef is an untrawled biogenic coral reef structure, linked to a unique rocky ridge and undersea hills; all of which support fragile species. Above the ridge are dense clouds of plankton and hake. The unique Kingklip Ridge and Kingklip Koppies ecosystem types are both threatened.

Click here for the full EBSA description


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

Kingklip Corals comprises interesting and unique 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: uniqueness and rarity, importance for threatened species and habitats, and vulnerability and sensitivity. There are five ecosystem types represented that contain fragile species, like corals, that are especially sensitive to damage. Two of the ecosystem types are unique to the area, and are threatened. The features and diversity within EBSA are not well known because they are so newly discovered, but it’s likely that these unique ecosystem types also support similarly unique and threatened communities.


Kingklip Corals proportion of area in each ecological condition category.


Kingklip Corals is mostly in poor ecological condition (53%), with some portions that are still in good (28%) or fair (19%) ecological condition. Consequently, the bulk of EBSA is threatened, comprising Endangered (2%) and Vulnerable (57%) ecosystem types; the remaining 41% is Least Concern.


 Kingklip Corals proportion of area in each ecosystem threat status category.


Kingklip Corals proportion of area in a Marine Protected Area (MPA).


Protection of features in MPAs has been improved following the proclamation of the Operation Phakisa MPA network, with the EBSA area within reserves increasing from no protection to 4% protection. The new MPA covers the Kingklip Ridge. This has improved the protection levels of some ecosystem types, but there are still some in the EBSA that are 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

Agulhas Coarse Sediment Shelf Edge






Agulhas Plateau Mosaic






Kingklip Koppies






Kingklip Ridge






Southwest Indian Upper Slope






Other Features

  • Fragile scleractinian corals, stylasterine corals, bamboo corals and bryozoans
  • Clouds of plankton and hake



Relevant Pressures and Activities (impact, extent)

  • There are eight 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: offshore trawling, benthic (hake) longlining, midwater trawling, pelagic longlining, south coast rock lobster harvesting, linefishing (commercial and recreational), and oil and gas (exploration and production). These activities will need to be managed particularly well in order to protect the fragile benthic biodiversity, and hake stocks for which this EBSA is recognised.
  • For almost all pressures, the substantially larger portion of the activity (sometimes the entire footprint) is in the Impact Management Zone, and the Conservation Zone includes only two activities (shipping and offshore trawling) where the contribution to the EBSA’s pressure profile is more than 1%.
  • Only oil and gas (exploration and production) comprise <1% of the EBSA pressure profile
  • 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, mariculture, mean annual runoff reduction, mining (prospecting and mining), naval dumping (ammunition), oyster harvesting, tuna pole fishing, ports and harbours, prawn trawling, recreational shore angling, shark netting, small pelagics fishing, 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 linefishing (commercial and recreational) and oil and gas (exploration and production) each comprise <1.2% of the EBSA pressure profile.




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. There is also one MPA that is wholly within the EBSA: Port Elizabeth Corals 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 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.



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.

Almost a fifth of the country’s midwater trawling is within the EBSA, almost exclusively within the Impact Management Zone. It is recommended to continue as a Consent activity in both EBSA zones. The linefisheries in the EBSA include benthic (hake) longlining, pelagic longlining and linefishing (commercial and recreational); these too are present almost entirely in the Impact Management Zone and are recommended to continue as Consent activities in both EBSA zones. Offshore trawling is recommended to continue in the Impact Management Zone as a Consent activity, but it is incompatible with the management objectives of the Conservation Zone and is therefore recommended to be Prohibited in that zone where, after revision of the zone, it currently does not occur. Oil and gas (exploration and production) occur to a very small degree in the EBSA, and is exclusively in the Impact Management Zone, where is may continue subject to appropriate regulation. Shipping is recommended to continue 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. Note that the footprints of these activities are given based on their footprint prior to proclamation of the new Port Elizabeth Corals MPA.


Research Needs

There are no specific research needs for this EBSA in addition to those for all EBSAs. However, it is highlighted here that biological sampling and surveys are especially recommended to improve the foundational knowledge of this site. Future research is also needed to determine the extent of connectivity among the three key benthic features (Secret Reef, Kingklip Koppies and Kingklip Ridge).


Future Process

Part of this EBSA has been gazetted for inclusion in the Port Elizabeth Corals MPA. It is unclear if this EBSA will be subject to detailed attention in the MARISMA EBSA status assessment and management options workplan.


Files you can download