Western Cape Tourist AttractionsTable Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area
Where? Table Mountain National Park, Cape Town, South Africa
The aim of a marine protected area is to conserve marine life. They take the form of a collaboration between civil society, communities and government that promote conservation and safeguard threatened marine species and important habitats.
This 956 km˛ stretch of ocean is where the cold Benguela and warm Atlantic currents mix, creating an extraordinary undersea diversity that contains 43 percent of all the marine species along the country's coastline.
In scientific terms it is described as a transition zone between the southwestern Cape bioregion and the Agulhas bioregion.
Not only is it biodiverse but it is also culturally significant, containing fish traps, ship wrecks and traditional fishing communities. It is also a hub for recreational and subsistence fishers, and contains elements of the West Coast rock lobster and commercial fisheries industries.
Because this MPA is so close to Cape Town it is a tourist destination, containing internationally renowned tourist attractions like Cape Point and Boulders African penguin colony. People use these waters to surf, scuba dive, snorkel, kayak, whale-watch , free-dive and kite-surf.
The MPA supports several threatened species – great white sharks, abalone, African penguins, and a number of over-exploited linefish like penskop and red steenbras. It includes sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and a lobster sanctuary.
The Marine Protected Area's reaction to all of this pressure is to allow fishing in most of the Marine Protected Area, but to implement six restricted areas and five 'no take' zones that serve as nurseries for marine life, where threatened species can regenerate. It also hopes to increase the restricted areas, and aims to include Seal Island in False Bay into the mix.
Restricted areas where there is no fishing include:
- St James between the tidal pools of St James and Kalk Bay
- Castle Rock
- Paulsberg between Smitswinkel Point and Venus Pool
- Cape of Good Hope between Hoek van die Bobbejaan and the fence at Scarborough Karbonkelberg between the Sentinal and Hout Bay and Oudekraal.
Included in the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area are several troops of baboons whose diet is largely seafood.