Robberg High Res Scott Ramsay 32

Marine protected areas

The continued health of South Africa’s marine and coastal environment is of vital importance, as it has an impact on countless lives and livelihoods and contributes to our rich biodiversity profile.

Many South Africans rely on these ecosystems for fishing, whether for commercial, subsistence or recreational purposes. Yet a number of fish stocks are overexploited, and several fish species are threatened.

It is undeniable that climate change is having an impact on marine species and ecosystems, decreasing their resilience and threatening coastal communities and livelihoods.

For this reason, CapeNature values our ongoing partnerships with civil society, local communities and the government to protect, manage and conserve our marine resources, and ensure they are used sustainably.

CapeNature manages six marine protected areas on behalf of the National Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment: Oceans and Coast, namely Robberg, Goukamma, Stilbaai, De Hoop, Betty’s Bay and Rocherpan. Our scope also spans the conservation of ecosystems and species outside these areas. A significant part of our work entails protecting threatened freshwater and marine species from poaching.

Healthy ecosystems can help us to adapt to the realities of climate change, and we welcome collaborations that will help us preserve our marine environment for future generations.

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Robberg was established as a marine protected area in 1998. The area features rocky coastline and boulders, with two sandy beaches. The coastline is around 9.5km long, with 1km of sandy shore and 8.5km of rocky shore.


Since being proclaimed a marine protected area (MPA) in 1990, Goukamma has been heralded as one of the country’s great marine success stories. Located 10km west of Knysna, the Goukamma MPA encompasses a 14km stretch of coastline from Buffels Bay to Platbank, and stretches one nautical mile (1.85km) out into the ocean.

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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.

De Hoop

De Hoop Nature Reserve is a marine protected area 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.

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Betty’s Bay

The Kogelberg Nature Reserve Complex includes the Betty’s Bay marine protected area, which lies approximately 29km south-east of the coastal town of Gordon’s Bay and about 37km north-west of the popular holiday town of Hermanus on the southwestern coastline of the Western Cape. The coastal town of Betty’s Bay is situated directly adjacent to it.


The Rocherpan marine protected area was declared in 1988. The area is 150ha in size.

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These areas aim to conserve marine life and promote the conservation and effective management of biodiverse marine areas.

    The management of marine living resources in South Africa is a national responsibility, as declared under the Marine Living Resources Act (Act No.18 of 1998). Download the act below: