Knysna, Western Cape


This linefish refuge allows populations to recover and benefits neighbouring beaches with “spillover” fish.

Found in the heart of the Garden Route and adjacent to the Goukamma Nature Reserve, the 34 km2 Goukamma MPA extends for 14 km along the coast and extends 1.8 km out to sea. Despite its relatively small size, this species-rich MPA contains a wide variety of habitats including rocky platforms, sandy beaches, subtidal rocky reefs, a productive estuary and coastal dune forest, with high vegetated dunes. All of this allows for a rich mix of warm temperate marine species that includes many that are endemic to the south coast of South Africa. Recent research in this MPA has provided evidence of the ‘spill-over effect’ of MPAs. This means that fish in the protected area breed and grow and ‘spill-over’ into adjacent fished areas. This results in more and bigger fish being caught in the open areas near to the MPA. The Goukamma estuary found within this MPA contributes to the protection of estuarine species and habitats. This MPA protects oyster beds. African black oystercatchers are regularly encountered along the coastline together with gulls and various tern species. Secretive Cape clawless otters may occasionally be seen searching for food in the estuary or in the intertidal rock pools. Out at sea, bottlenose and humpback dolphins cruise behind the backline throughout the year, while in the winter months, humpback and southern right whales may be viewed from high vantage points. Over 164 species of seaweeds have also been identified within the MPA boundaries. Of the marine activities permitted, walking along the beautiful coastline and shore-based angling are the most popular. Abundant shell middens provide good evidence that Khoi-san peoples inhabited this stretch of coastline and amongst the deposits, pieces of ostrich egg shell and pottery may also be found. While no offshore fishing is allowed in the MPA, scuba diving is allowed and there are some excellent reefs that are covered in soft sponges and sea fans. This MPA was proclaimed in 1990.



  • Safeguards rocky and sandy shore habitats

  • protects reef fish habitats

  • enhances catches in adjacent fished areas through spill over