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

Protea Banks and Sardine Route encompasses a culturally and ecologically significant annual phenomenon: the sardine run, which provides a seasonal foraging extravaganza for a plethora of top predators, many of which are threatened species. Protea Banks itself is a unique deep-reef system that supports aggregations and spawning of fish. Diversity is exceptional, with 40 ecosystem types: the most of all South African EBSAs.

Click here for the full EBSA description

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

Protea Banks and Sardine Route has a myriad of features, processes 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 life history stages, importance for threatened species and habitats, and biological diversity. There are 40 ecosystem types represented, which is the most habitat diversity in all of South Africa’s EBSAs; half of these ecosystem types (2) are threatened. The reefs, rocky shores, rocky shelf, steep shelf edge and canyon ecosystem types all support fragile species that are sensitive to damage. Further, the area is an important part of the annual sardine run, where sardines migrate from west to east, followed by a plethora of top predators that forage on the fish.

 

Protea Banks and Sardine Route proportion of area in each ecological condition category.

 

Protea Banks and Sardine Route is largely in good ecological condition (62%), with a third that is in fair ecological condition (33%), and a fraction (5%) that is in poor ecological condition. Consequently, the bulk of the EBSA is Near Threatened (74%). The remaining quarter is split among Endangered (12%), Vulnerable (7%) and Near Threatened (7%) types that are all coastal.

 

Protea Banks and Sardine Route proportion of area in each ecosystem threat status category.

 

Protea Banks and Sardine Route proportion of area in a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

 

Although some areas within the EBSA have been protected in MPAs for a long time, this has been considerably expanded and strengthened following the proclamation of the Operation Phakisa MPA network, with the EBSA area within reserves more than doubling from 17% to 37%. Although most of the ecosystem types in this area are now well or moderately protected, there are still some 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.

Feature

Threat Status

Protection Level

Condition (%)

Good

Fair

Poor

Ecosystem Types

Agulhas Dissipative Intermediate Sandy Shore

LC

WP

0.0

100.0

0.0

Agulhas Dissipative Sandy Shore

NT

WP

57.9

35.0

7.1

Agulhas Exposed Rocky Shore

VU

MP

66.9

32.9

0.2

Agulhas Mixed Shore

NT

MP

66.9

32.6

0.5

Agulhas Very Exposed Rocky Shore

VU

MP

98.4

1.6

0.0

Aliwal Shoal Reef Complex

VU

MP

0.0

70.7

29.3

Natal Boulder Shore

VU

WP

38.1

14.6

47.3

Natal Deep Shelf Edge

LC

MP

49.2

50.7

0.1

Natal Delagoa Dissipative Intermediate Sandy Shore

LC

WP

34.1

32.2

33.7

Natal Delagoa Dissipative Sandy Shore

NT

NP

46.4

45.1

8.5

Natal Delagoa Intermediate Sandy Shore

NT

WP

10.9

13.9

75.2

Natal Delagoa Reflective Sandy Shore

VU

WP

0.0

3.1

96.9

Natal Exposed Rocky Shore

NT

WP

52.7

19.8

27.5

Natal Lower Canyon

LC

WP

83.3

16.7

0.0

Natal Mixed Shore

VU

WP

25.4

20.7

53.9

Natal Upper Canyon

LC

WP

79.7

20.3

0.0

Natal Very Exposed Rocky Shore

NT

WP

48.4

43.4

8.2

Port St Johns Inner Shelf Mosaic

VU

MP

0.2

89.1

10.8

Port St Johns Muddy Mid Shelf

VU

MP

0.0

100.0

0.0

Port St Johns Muddy Shelf Edge

VU

MP

0.1

99.9

0.0

Protea Mid Shelf Reef Complex

EN

MP

0.0

100.0

0.0

Southern KZN Shelf Edge Mosaic

NT

WP

37.3

62.5

0.2

Southern KZN Inner Shelf Mosaic

EN

MP

0.0

0.9

99.1

Southern KZN Mid Shelf Mosaic

EN

MP

0.0

84.2

15.8

Southwest Indian Lower Slope

LC

NP

85.4

14.6

0.0

Southwest Indian Mid Slope

LC

PP

81.8

18.2

0.0

Southwest Indian Upper Slope

LC

WP

79.2

20.8

0.0

Subtropical Large Fluvially Dominated

EN

PP

57.6

32.6

9.9

Subtropical Large Temporarily Closed

EN

PP

12.5

29.6

58.0

Subtropical Micro-estuary

NA

NA

45.1

31.5

23.4

Subtropical Predominantly Open

EN

MP

30.7

48.0

21.3

Subtropical Small Temporarily Closed

VU

MP

25.7

35.3

39.0

Trafalgar Reef Complex

EN

MP

0.0

0.1

99.9

Warm Temperate Large Temporarily Closed

VU

PP

99.4

0.6

0.0

Warm Temperate Micro-estuary

NA

NA

99.5

0.5

0.0

Warm Temperate Predominantly Open

VU

PP

0.0

100.0

0.0

Warm Temperate Small Temporarily Closed

LC

PP

1.9

98.1

0.0

Wild Coast Inner Shelf Mosaic

VU

MP

0.8

92.6

6.6

Wild Coast Mid Shelf Mosaic

LC

WP

71.8

26.5

1.8

Wild Coast Shelf Edge Mosaic

LC

WP

94.8

5.2

0.0

Other Features

  • Sardine run, and associated following by top predators
  • Unique deep-reef system that supports aggregations and spawning of fish, and fragile species
  • Canyons

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Relevant Pressures and Activities (impact, extent)

  • There are 13 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 (commercial and recreational), mean annual runoff reduction, shark netting, coastal disturbance, coastal development, wastewater discharge, recreational shore angling, subsistence harvesting, pelagic longlining, oyster harvesting and abalone harvesting. These activities cover discrete portions of the EBSA, and are mostly concentrated in the shallower waters, particularly along the shore. These activities will need to be managed particularly well in order to protect the coastal (especially shore) ecosystem types, and fish and top predator assemblages (especially during the sardine run) for which this EBSA is recognised. In some cases, this is already true, e.g., the shark nets are lifted during the sardine run.
  • Nine of the 13 pressures each comprise <1% of the EBSA pressure profile, including: coastal disturbance, coastal development, wastewater discharge, recreational shore angling, subsistence harvesting, pelagic longlining, oyster harvesting, mining (prospecting and mining) and abalone harvesting. This is expected because most of these are coastal pressures that have a very small footprint relative to the size of the EBSA, but that can substantially overlap with and impact the small extent of the ecosystem types in which they occur (e.g., rocky shores).
  • Activities in South Africa that are not present in this EBSA include: alien invasive species, beach seining, benthic (hake) longlining, dredge spoil dumping, gillnetting, kelp harvesting, mariculture, midwater trawling, naval dumping (ammunition), oil and gas (exploration and production), ports and harbours, prawn trawling, small pelagics fishing, south coast rock lobster harvesting, squid fishing, tuna pole fishing, inshore trawling, offshore trawling, and west coast rock lobster harvesting.

 

‚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 pressures from coastal disturbance to prawn trawling 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. There are also six MPAs that are wholly or partially within the EBSA: Dwesa-Cwebe MPA; Hluleka MPA; Trafalgar MPA; Pondoland MPA; Protea Banks MPA; and Aliwal Shoal 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: Dwesa-Cwebe MPA; Hluleka MPA; Trafalgar MPA; Pondoland MPA; Protea Banks MPA; and Aliwal Shoal 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 half of the country’s bather protection (shark netting) takes place within this EBSA, it is very well managed (particularly during the sardine run). Most shark netting is within the Impact Management Zone and the newly proclaimed/expanded MPAs, with a very small portion in the Conservation Zone. It is recommended to continue in both EBSA zone as a Consent activity. Most of the other activities that take place within the EBSA are coastal and primarily affect the shores and adjacent inner shelf in some cases. Coastal harvesting and fishing activities include subsistence harvesting, recreational shore angling, oyster harvesting, linefishing (commercial and recreational) and abalone harvesting. These activities are recommended to continue as Consent activities in both EBSA zones, noting that some of these activities fall in the newly proclaimed/expanded MPAs and, in those areas, will be managed according to the respective MPA regulations. Further, abalone harvesting is currently not present in the Impact Management Zone and is thus recommended to be Prohibited. Mining also takes place within the EBSA, with all currently mined sites either wholly or partially in the MPAs; it is present in only one site in the Conservation Zone, spanning the estuary and beach in this area and the adjacent Hluleka MPA. 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.

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.

 

Research Needs

There are no specific research needs for this EBSA in addition to those for all EBSAs. However, it is noted that there is planned research in the Protea Banks area through the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Program Phase III. Biodiversity sampling in the deeper portions of the EBSA and improved understanding of habitat sensitivity and vulnerability are emphasised as particular research priorities for this site.

 

Future Process

Portions of the EBSA have been gazetted for inclusion into the Aliwal Shoal MPA and the Protea Banks 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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