Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s)

of South Africa

What is an MPA?

A Marine Protected Area is an estuary, section of coastline or ocean that has special conservation efforts in place, in order to protect various marine ecosystems.
More than 600 million people live in coastal areas around the world, making marine resources very valuable for those living in coastal communities. The ocean provides people with a source of food and income, therefor making it vital to conserve fish stocks and marine resources (TheOceanConference, 2017). But as much as us humans rely on healthy and abundant ecosystems, so do a variety of marine life… Human activities have disrupted and have negatively impacted delicate marine ecosystems all around the world. From plastic pollution, species extinction to habitat loss, there are a multitude of reasons why MPA’s are put in place…


Classifications of MPA’s

The Atlas of Marine Conservation’s website states them as follows:

‘No-Take’ zone where the extraction/ harvesting of marine plant and animal life is prohibited (De Hoop and Tsitsikama).

Harvesting of marine life is allowed as long as you carry a valid permit and adhere to limitations. Other recreational activities such as spear fishing, angling, scuba diving, boating, commercial diving or filming require you have a valid permit too.

Allows management to control the restriction of marine extraction from the ‘restricted areas’ and the extraction of marine resources under a permit from the ‘controlled areas’ (Table Mountain National Park)

Purpose of Marine Protected Areas:

  • Allows for the recovery of previously damaged ecosystems
  • Prevents habitat loss
  • Protects endangered species
  • Provides important nursery grounds for juveniles
  • Rejuvenates fish stocks
  • Acts as spawning grounds for certain species

A few protected areas of the Western Cape



Table Mountain National Park has a number of restricted and protected marine areas, namely:

  • Castle Rock Restricted Zone

    A magnificent dive site, boasting an abundance of marine life and thriving kelp forest ecosystems.

    “Catle Rock is 1 of 6 ‘no take’ zones in the Table Mountain National Park. The Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area (MPA) is possibly the most dramatic seascape in the country. The marine park curves around the long, thin Cape Peninsula. The two great oceans – Indian and Atlantic – mingle their waters all along this coast, adding to the spectacular diversity of this region. This MPA stretches all around the Cape Peninsula, from Mouille Point near Cape Town’s centre all the way around to Muizenberg in False Bay. It includes rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, a lobster sanctuary, and a number of ‘no-take’ zones that act as nurseries for over-exploited fish species.” – Atlas of Marine Protection

  • Boulders Restricted Zone

    Home to a colony of endangered African penguin, this area is an important nesting and breeding ground for a variety of marine animals.

    The Boulders section of Table Mountain National Parks consists of 3 pristine beaches, 1 penguin viewing area and 3 boardwalks. The boardwalks were built as a measure to allow for viewing of these wonderful birds, whilst keeping them safe from poking fingers, so please be sure to stay on the boardwalks at all times within the viewing area. “ – Table Mountain National Park



Betty’s Bay

MPA established – 1981
Size of MPA – 21 km²

“This 21 km2 MPA is a penguin paradise, with incredible kelp forests. Situated on the Cape South Coast between Stony Point and Jocks Bay and extending 3.6km out to sea, the 3km long Betty’s Bay MPA was first proclaimed in 1990, then re-proclaimed and renamed in 1998. The MPA forms part of the core zone of the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) designated Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. Established to protect declining linefish stocks and counter the over-exploitation of South Africa’s abalone, the area is productive and biologically diverse, supporting substantial fish, invertebrate and algal species.” – Marine Protected Areas, South Africa

Walker Bay

MPA established – 2001 Size of MPA – 108 km²
“This 108 km2 MPA was proclaimed in 2001 and provides an important refuge for southern right whales and their calves to rest from July to November. The MPA protects rocky and sandy shore habitats and kelp forests immediately offshore that provide refuge for overexploited abalone and west coast rock lobster.” – Marine Protected Areas, South Africa