Marine protected areas aim to conserve marine life and promote the conservation and effective management of biodiverse marine areas. They are an example of successful collaboration between civil society, communities and government to take care of our natural resources, particularly our marine resources.

CapeNature currently manages six Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on behalf of the Department of Environmental Affairs: Oceans and Coast, namely Robberg, Goukamma, Stillbaai, De Hoop, Betty’s Bay and Rocherpan.

Stilbaai MPA

Stilbaai was declared a marine protected area in 2008. It connects to the land-based Geelkrans Nature Reserve, which ensures that the coastal zone is well protected.

The area, managed by CapeNature, is protected to rebuild overexploited marine life, particularly reef/line fish. It also prevents habitat degradation and preserves vis-vwyers (fish traps), which are archaeologically and culturally important.

Fishing is still allowed in controlled areas, but it is banned in Geelkrans, Skulpiesbaai and Goukou estuary. Goukou was the first estuary to be included in marine protected area in the Western Cape.

Stilbaai is a biodiverse area, with a variety of coastal habitats, including dunes, sandy beach, rocky shore, coastal fynbos, salt-marshes, reefs and estuarine reeds. These habitats are monitored through various projects to help CapeNature understand the area and plan its activities accordingly.

Goukamma MPA

Goukamma MPA

Since being proclaimed a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 1990, Goukamma has been heralded as one of the country’s great marine success stories.

Just 10 kilometers west of Knysna, the Goukamma MPA has the coast line of approximately 14km from Buffels Bay to Platbank and stretches one nautical mile (1.85 km) out into ocean.

The Goukamma MPA supports a rich mixture of warm temperate species, including many species that are endemic to the south coast of South Africa.

The MPA estuary is one of very few semi-closed estuaries. It functions naturally and no artificial opening or closing of the mouth is carried out. An important factor for MPA estuary is the fact that it has large catchments area.

The MPA is an important breeding area for the rare African black oystercatcher, while many other sea birds are known to frequent the area.

Globally threatened sea turtles are present in the area, including loggerhead, green, hawksbill and leatherback turtles. Many other species of marine mammals have been sighted including various species of dolphin, whales, sharks and seals.

Management of marine living resources in South Africa is a national responsibility and they are declared under the marine living resources act (no.18, 1998).

Robberg MPA

Robberg MPARobberg Marine Protected Area was established as a Marine Protected Area in terms of Marine Living Resources Act 2000, on 2 September 1998 and proclaimed in the Government Notice by Proclamation No. 18/1998.

The MPA contains rocky coastline and boulders with two sandy beaches. The coastline is approximately 9.5 km long with 1 km of sandy shores and 8.5 km of rocky shore. Robberg MPA has offshore reefs, which provide especially important habitat for commercially fished sparids from the genus Chrysoblephus, and endemic sparids such as Red steenbras and Black musselcracker. The MPA has offshore soft sediment areas close inshore between the offshore reefs.

Although these areas are low in species diversity, they are important areas for East coast sole, Silver kob and Hake.

The Robberg MPA is a breeding area for the rare African Black Oystercatcher. Many other seabirds are known to frequent the area, including a Whitebreasted Cormorant breeding colony. Globally threatened and CITES listed sea turtles have been observed in the area, including Loggerhead, Green and Hawksbill turtles which are seen annually, and Leatherback turtles which are rare visitors. There have also been many species of marine mammals sighted and also stranded in the Robberg MPA, including various species of whales, dolphins and seals. There is also a Cape fur seal colony within the MPA.

De Hoop MPA

De Hoop Nature Reserve - Western Cape - South Africa

The De Hoop Nature Reserve is a Marine Protected Area (MPA) on the southern Cape coast. Visitors come to the dunes of Koppie Alleen from all over the world for a glimpse of some of the reserve’s special guests – the whales.

The highest level of protection is applied at the De Hoop MPA to limit human impact to a minimum. Not even a rock or little shell may be removed from here, but if you’re willing to walk a bit, you can also enjoy this area.

The De Hoop MPA does not only protect the reserve and the coastline. It also stretches three nautical miles into the sea, meaning that all these little sea creatures are also protected.

Betty’s Bay MPA

The Kogelberg Nature Reserve Complex includes the Betty’s Bay Marine Protected Area (MPA), which lies approximately 29 km south-east of the coastal town of Gordon’s Bay and approximately 37 km north-west of the popular holiday town Hermanus on the south western coastline of the Western Cape. The coastal town of Betty’s Bay is situated directly adjacent to it, which falls within the Overstrand Municipal area.

The MPA covers 3 km of coastline and encompasses the inshore marine environment between two beacons, the western one of which is situated on a rocky promontory at Stony Point and the eastern one, just to the east of Jock’s Bay.

Within the boundaries of the Betty’s Bay MPA, all marine organisms are protected and no fishing is allowed, with the exception of shore angling (subject to valid permits) between the beacon at Stony Point and the beacon to the east of Jock’s Bay, extending two nautical miles seawards from the high-water mark. The latter includes shore angling competitions which are held on a regular basis in the Betty’s Bay MPA.

Rocherpan MPA

Rocherpan includes the Rocherpan Marine Protected Area, which was declared in 1988. The area is 150 hectares in size. Rocherpan is dominated by the large central vlei and a 4.7km stretch of sandy Atlantic coastline, of which the southern 3km, and the area 500m seaward, constitutes the marine protected area. It offers protection to diverse marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats.