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

Mallory Escarpment and Trough is a steeply sloping (20°) part of the Agulhas-Falkland Fracture Zone; a slope that steep is unique in the region, and rare globally. It’s also at the meeting point of two biogeographical provinces, which with the large depth range, means high habitat heterogeneity. Sporadic shelf-edge upwelling enhances productivity. It is also a spawning and retention area for numerous commercially important fish.

Click here for the full EBSA description

[Top]

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

Mallory Escarpment and Trough is not well explored, but is a unique and special geomorphic feature in the region that, at the meeting point of the Southeast Atlantic Deep Ocean and the Southwest Indian Deep Ocean biogeographical provinces, supports a highly diverse collection of ecosystem types for an area this far offshore. The criteria for which this EBSA ranks highly are: uniqueness and rarity, importance for life history stages, vulnerability and sensitivity, biological productivity, biological diversity and naturalness. There are six ecosystem types represented that likely contain diverse assemblages also including fragile species that are especially sensitive to damage. It’s an important spawning area for small pelagic fish (sardine, anchovy, horse mackerel) and hake, with high productivity from upwelling attracting foraging turtles and seabirds.

 

Mallory Escarpment and Trough proportion of area in each ecological condition category.

 

Mallory Escarpment and Trough is deeper than 1500 m and is thus largely in good ecological condition (55%), with the rest in fair ecological condition (45%); none of the EBSA extent is in poor ecological condition. Consequently, the full extent comprises ecosystem types that are Least Concern (100%), providing excellent opportunity to protect the biodiversity in this area in a pristine or near-pristine state. 

 

 Mallory Escarpment and Trough proportion of area in each ecosystem threat status category.

 

Mallory Escarpment and Trough proportion of area in a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

 

Protection of features in MPAs in the EBSAs adjacent to Mallory Escarpment and Trough have been considerably expanded and strengthened following the proclamation of the Operation Phakisa MPA network. However, this particular EBSA is one of only two in the country with no protection afforded to its special features, and all the constituent ecosystem types are either Poorly Protected or Not Protected. It is thus highly recommended as a site for future protected area expansion, particularly over the unique slope.

 

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 Basin Abyss

LC

PP

64.4

35.6

0.0

Cape Basin Abyss

LC

PP

100.0

0.0

0.0

Southeast Atlantic Lower Slope

LC

NP

100.0

0.0

0.0

Southeast Atlantic Mid Slope

LC

PP

100.0

0.0

0.0

Southwest Indian Lower Slope

LC

NP

34.7

65.3

0.0

Southwest Indian Mid Slope

LC

PP

10.0

89.9

0.1

Other Features

  • Spawning area for small pelagic fish (sardine, anchovy, horse mackerel) and hake and areas of retention of the spawning products
  • Fragile species, e.g., gorgonians
  • Turtles, especially Critically Endangered leatherbacks
  • Foraging seabirds

[Top]

 

Relevant Pressures and Activities (impact, extent)

  • There are three pressures present in this EBSA, of which shipping is the only one that covers the entire EBSA extent. Pelagic longlining is also extensive in the EBSA, and has the highest cumulative pressure profile.
  • The key pressure in this EBSA that most directly impacts the features for which the EBSA is described is pelagic longlining. This activity will need to be managed particularly well in order to protect many of the species that might be caught as bycatch, e.g., seabirds and turtles, which are important biodiversity features for which this EBSA is recognised. Although offshore trawling does overlap with the EBSA, it comprises 0.01% and thus effectively does not impact the EBSA.
  • Activities in South Africa that are not present in this EBSA include: abalone harvesting, alien invasive species, beach seining, benthic (hake) longlining, coastal development, coastal disturbance, dredge spoil dumping, gillnetting, kelp harvesting, linefishing (commercial and recreational), mariculture, mean annual runoff reduction, midwater trawling, mining (prospecting and mining), naval dumping (ammunition), oil and gas (exploration and production), oyster harvesting, tuna pole fishing, 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.

‚Äč

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 offshore trawling comprises 0.01% of the EBSA pressure profile.

[Top]

 

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. Note that this is one of only two EBSAs in South Africa that does not contain any marine protected areas.

 

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.

[Top]

 

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.

Pelagic longlining is the most notable activity within this EBSA, although it comprises <10% of the national footprint of this activity. It is recommended to continue with appropriate controls and regulations as a Consent activity. 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 for the listed marine activities.

 

Research Needs

There are no specific research needs for this EBSA in addition to those for all EBSAs. However, the importance of acquiring foundational biodiversity information is emphasised here, and surveys for sampling biodiversity and understanding the ecological significance of Mallory Slope, in particular, is strongly recommended.

 

Future Process

It is unclear if this EBSA will be subject to detailed attention in the MARISMA EBSA status assessment and management options workplan.

[Top]