Agulhas Bank complex MPA

"Precious Pinnacles"

South of Cape Agulhas, Western Cape


These thriving offshore ecosystems have supported South African fisheries for more than a century.

This 4300 km2 MPA includes the iconic Alphard Banks, a spectacular volcanic pinnacle that rises up from a depth of 80m to a shallow 14m. The unique kelp forest ecosystems that blanket these pinnacles are teeming with shoals of yellowtail, geelbek, stingrays and red stumpnose, fondly referred to as Miss Lucy. Below 40m, the kelp forests transform into cold water coral gardens that provide important refuges for young fish. The MPA includes parts of the 45 and 72 Mile Banks and protects spawning aggregations of endangered red steenbras, a long-lived seabream that reaches over 1m, making it the largest seabream in the world. Before South Africa declared its Exclusive Economic Zone in 1972, foreign trawlers targeted redfish (such as panga, carpenter and Miss Lucy) in the area, damaging reefs and lace corals. Protection in this zoned MPA supports the recovery of these important habitats and the fish that depend on them, which provides benefits to those who fish with low impact gear. The MPA helps to maintain the tourism economy that relies on recreational fishing and scuba diving in this iconic location at the southern tip of Africa. The pinnacles attract pelagic animals such as the blue marlin, stingrays and turtles. This MPA provides the first protection for the offshore ecosystems that have supported more than a century of South African fisheries, and the first production of oil and gas resources found in our seascape.



  • protects spawning and nursery area of commercially important fish, such as the red steenbras (world’s largest seabream)

  • preserves attractions for Ecotourism (catch and release marlin fishing and shark diving)

  • allows for the recovery of linefish and helps long-term sustainability of small-scale fisheries

  • Protects fishing areas from impacts of mining and petroleum industry