Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area Marine Protected Area
Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa has approved the rezoning of the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area (MPA) to allow limited fishing by members of local communities in three "control zones," which has changed the protected status of the Reserve. (20 Dec 2016)
Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area Rezoned (20 Dec 2016) allafrica.com
Mixed feelings over Tsitsikamma fishing (2 Dec 2015) iol.co.az
Tsitsikama Marine Protected Area opened to fishing (21 Dec 2015) sabreakingnews.co.za
Environment Minister Edna Molewa has published draft regulations to rezone the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area, part of the Garden Route National Park, to allow fishing to South African citizens who live in the KouKamma Municipal area or within eight kilometres of the coast between the Bloukrans River and Covie. Once registered, they will be given permits to fish in four areas which make up about 20 percent of the marine protected area which stretches for 58km from Nature’s Valley east of Plettenberg Bay to the Groot River in the Eastern Cape.
SANParks spokeswoman Nandi Mgwadlamba said the public was invited to comment on the proposals. In the meantime fishing would be opened “as a pilot project” on December 15 for those anglers who were eligible. They would be allowed to fish four days a month until at least April. The pilot project would test whether it was feasible” to open the four areas permanently.
The Tsitsikamma National Park, proclaimed in 1964, is the oldest and largest ‘no-take’ MPA in Africa. It is considered by many to be the marine equivalent of the Kruger National Park. The MPA extends from Groot River West (33°59‟S, 23°34‟E) to the Groot River East (34°04‟S, 24°12‟E) and covers 57 km of coastline with a total surface area of 32,300 hectares.
The majority of this stretch of coastline is rugged with high rocky ridges, but includes boulder bays, subtidal rocky reefs and subtidal sandy benthos. This MPA is a biodiversity hotspot and provides excellent habitat for reef associated plants and animals, including many over-exploited fishery species.
The following research and monitoring programmes are currently being conducted in this MPA:
Keystone species in the Tsitsikamma National Park
The Tsitsikamma MPA is central in the distributional range of several South African endemic fish species, including many depleted fishery species that are in urgent need of protection. These species include dageraad, red stumpnose, red steenbras, seventy-four, musselcracker, poenskop, white steenbras and dusky kob. Many of the above fish species are slow growing and have life spans exceeding 20 years. To complicate matters some species (e.g. dageraad and poenskop) undergo sexual reversal. Consequently, in these species all males are derived from functional females and are older than 10 years. The exploitation of such population results in the removal of larger individuals, which alters the sex ratio and ultimately their reproductive capacity.
A 15-year tag and release study has revealed that many of the inshore fish species present in the park are extremely resident. Approximately 95% of all recaptured fish remained within the 5 km tag and release research area. This study has also shown that the resident fish populations are older and larger than those in neighbouring exploited areas. The protection of these slow growing long-lived species is essential for ensuring recruitment of younger fish into the marine environment.
Mark and recapture data also suggest that offshore reef fish such as carpenter, roman, dageraad and juvenile red steenbras have a high degree of residency in the park. A telemetry on roman revealed that they maintain very small home ranges of between 1 000 m² and 3 000 m². The slow growth rate and the stenotopic behaviour of this and many other species vulnerable to over-exploitation.
There is no doubt that the Tsitsikamma MPA plays an crucial role in the conservation of many line-fish species, and the biggest challenge facing management is to ensure that this marine refuge is maintained in the face of increasing socio-economic demands.
The Marine Protected Area is within the Tsitsidamma National Park and includes most, but not all of its marine area.
Original data record from World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) via ProtectedPlanet.net [view record on site].