Draft regulations declaring Bettys Bay, Robberg and Goukamma marine protected areas
On 21 July 2017 in Government Gazette 40996, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, published for public comment draft Notices and Regulations for the expansion and re-zonation of the Betty’s Bay, the Robberg and Goukamma Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
In its efforts to protect marine biodiversity and contribute to national targets as recommended by the National Protected Area Expansion Strategy (NPAES) and the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Department of Environmental Affairs has progressed with expansion and revision of regulations for three (3) existing MPAs managed by CapeNature (Bettys Bay, Robberg and Goukamma MPAs). The proposed expansion and re-zonation has been an ongoing process which was first initiated in 2012 and is supported by the Agulhas Bioregional Plan as a priority to meet national targets to protect intertidal habitats and to assist in linefish conservation.
Currently, Betty’s Bay MPA has no defined zones such as restricted or controlled zones in terms of the NEMPAA and is managed as a controlled zone in that certain activities are allowed, whilst others are prohibited. Thus, shore-angling is allowed between Stony Point and to the east of Jock-se-baai, extending two nautical miles seawards from the high-water mark. The draft gazette proposes that the MPA is zoned as a single restricted zone where fishing is completely prohibited.
In order for Betty’s Bay MPA to reach a state of ideal ecological functioning, all aspects of the ecosystem need to be protected. The MPA is intended to provide protection for the highly threatened abalone, their habitat and West Coast rock lobster (WCRL) but currently offers little protection to the line fish species found in the area. In order for the MPA to function effectively, the line fish species also needs to benefit from the protection.
Goukamma MPA is a popular shore-based fishing destination and angler effort is high. Goukamma MPA is host to a diverse fish fauna and boasts numerous resident reef fish. There has been substantial investigation on the residency of reef associated species and one of the most important of these is the Roman species. The stock of Roman has been in decline for many years and is now considered to be collapsed. The Gazette therefore proposes two restricted zones and one controlled zone where only fishing from the shore is allowed.
Robberg MPA is currently a no-take area for ski-boat angling and spearfishing but shore-based angling is allowed. It is suggested that the southern margin of the MPA be re-zoned as a no-take area where no consumptive resource use may take place. Thus there will be two types of zones in the MPA, a restricted zone where no fishing may occur, and three controlled zones where recreational shore-angling can take place. This approach will enhance the fisheries and conservation benefits of the MPA, especially considering the evidence of depletion of linefish stocks in the MPA and in the Plettenberg Bay area generally.
Thus, the Department aims to improve the holistic protection of marine biodiversity in these MPAs. Any person who wishes to submit representations or comments in connection with the proposed declaration is invited to do so within 60 days from date of publication in the Government Gazette 40996 and by no later than 16h00 on the 19th of September 2017.
Source: Government of South Africa