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Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

What is a MPA?

There are several types of areas in the marine and coastal environment where special regulationsspecial regulations apply for conservation ,conservation, fishery management and the promotion of tourism. These include Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), declared under Section 43 of the Marine Living Resources Act 18/1998 .In general, no fishing (at least in certain zones), construction work ,work, pollution or any form of disturbance is allowed within an MPA unless written permission (which could be in the form of a permit or exemption issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs) has been granted by the Minister. Inside Closed Areas of the MPA, declared under Section 77 of the Marine Living Recourses Act, fishing is restricted or prohibited entirely. National Parks declared under the Protected AreasProtected Areas Act (as in the case of many South African National Parks) can include Marine Protected Areas and estuaries.

Why do we have MPA's?

The natural marine living resources of South Africa, as well as the marine environment ,environment, are national assets and the heritage of our people. The declaration of MPA's helps us to look after our resources and preserve them for future generations.

View the strict rules and regulations in place regarding fishing in the MPA . Alternatively, visit the department's website at

For further information on fishing, season dates, marine species, etc. please view the links below:

For information on sustainable use of the oceans please visit or send an SMS to 079 499 8795.

MPA's in West Coast National Park

The Langebaan Lagoon is divided into three zones:

  • A - Controlled
  • B - Restricted
  • C - Sanctuary

Recreational fishing and power boating are only allowed in the Controlled Zone marked as Zone A. Non-power driven vessels such as sailing and canoeing is allowed in the restricted Zone B but no fishing is allowed. No activities at all are allowed in the Sanctuary Zone C as this is a particularly protected section of the lagoon.

WCNP's MPA also extends to the coast line along Sixteen Mile Beach where no fishing is allowed from the shore. MPA's are also in place around the four islands under WCNP Management, namely, Malgas ,Jutten, Schaapen and Marcus island. Here, no fishing or diving is allowed along the shores of the islands.

West Coast National Park Islands

West Coast National Park is responsible for the management of four islands in Saldanha Bay. These are Marcus Island (17ha and joined to the mainland by a causeway), Malgas Island (18ha), Jutten Island (43ha) and Schaapen Island (29ha).

Like most South African islands, this group provides an important home for Cape Gannets (which breed on Malgas island) and other seabirds, many of which are endemic to the near shore regions of South Africa and Namibia.

Life on and around the islands:

  • Approximately 30 percent of the world's population of African Black Oystercatchers breed on these islands.
  • The endangered Bank Cormorant - whose numbers have plummeted from 8 700 breeding pairs in 1980 to a current number of 4 900 pairs - also breed on these islands.
  • The largest known colony of Kelp Gulls in Southern Africa is found on Schaapen island.
  • Populations of African Penguins and bank cormorants have dropped dramatically on Malgas island and it is believed that predation by a small number of seals may be the cause of this alarming decline.
  • Cape Fur Seals have re-populated Vondeling island (managed by Cape Nature ), now an established breeding colony. These seals are also found on Jutten, Malgas, Marcus and Schaapen islands.
  • Interestingly, European Rabbits, which are thought to have been introduced by Jan van Riebeek , still abound on Schaapen and Jutten islands. The rabbit population on Schaapen island is an albino race and they survive the hot dry summers by grazing seaweeds and the seashore.
  • Egg-eating snakes prey on bird eggs on Schaapen and Meeuw (managed by the defense force) islands. With few natural predators, these snakes grow up to a meter long and have a significant impact on the breeding success of the seabirds.

Geelbek Wetlands: Why are wetlands important for conservation?

The Langebaan Lagoon has been classified as a wetland of international importance in terms of the Ramsar Convention. It is also the focal point of the West Coast National Park, which conserves the Lagoon's sensitive ecosystems as well as the surrounding land.

Some of the salt marshes in West Coast National Park can be viewed from the Geelbek birdhides, as these form part of zone C of the Langebaan Lagoon. Salt marshes provide much of the detritus (decaying plant matter) that form the basis of the estuarine food web. For example, the tips of Zostera leaves continually break off and are colonized by bacteria and fungi, which not only decompose them to detritus but also impart greater nutritional value. In this form they are consumed by benthic invertebrates such as sand and mud prawns, bloodworms ,crabsbloodworms, crabs , snails and filter feeding mussels and clams, as well as by swimming prawns and mullet fish.

West Coast Rock Lobster Season & Permit Information

Any person wanting to catch West Coast Rock Lobster for their own consumption must be in possession of a Recreational Rock Lobster Permit, obtainable at South African Post Offices only.

Permit holders are entitled to catch 4 lobsters per day for their own use, between the hours of 08h00 and 16h00 only.

The season for Rock Lobster varies a little from year to year but generally runs from mid-November until the end of the following Easter weekend with some restrictions in between as to whether or not fishing is allowed over weekends, public holidays or week days. Season dates are published in provincial and national newspapers and can be obtained from your nearest DAFF (Department Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) office.

The 2013/14 West Coast Rock Lobster Season is closed.

Download the West Coast Rock Lobster season dates and information brochure.

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