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 proposed 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 ecosystem that blankets these pinnacles are teeming with shoals of yellowtail, geelbek, stingrays and red stumpnose, fondly referred to as Miss Lucy. The shallow kelp forests transform into cold water coral gardens below 40 m. The area includes part of the 45 and 72 Mile Banks and aims to protect spawning aggregations of our endangered Red steenbras, long lived seabreams that reach over 1m, the largest seabreams 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 will support recovery of these habitats and resources and provide benefits to fishers who may fish with low impact fishing gear in half of the MPA. The MPA will also help maintain the tourism economy which relies on recreational fishing and scuba diving at this iconic location at the southern tip of Africa. The pinnacles attract ocean wonderers 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.

 

BENEFITS

  • important spawning and nursery area for valuable fish

  • Spawning aggregation for red steenbras (world’s largest seabream found only in SA)

  • Ecotourism area with catch and release marlin fishing and shark diving

  • Important for small scale fisheries and recovery of linefish

  • Protects some fishing area from mining and petroleum impacts