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South Africa Mission Log Include


"The ragged tooth
is a seasonal
winter visitor and considered one of the prime attractions in this popular diving spot."


Click here for the current National Weather Service conditions in Durban, South Africa.


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Introduction and Background

The National Ocean Service’s (NOS) National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) and International Program Office invite you to join us as we travel across the ocean to work with our partners in marine protection the Republic of South Africa. The mission, initiated by the International Program Office in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), seeks to enhance each country’s management of its marine protected areas (MPAs) through learning from shared experiences and knowledge of each other.

Our journey to the KwaZulu-Natal Province in eastern South Africa begins the second phase of a two-year long project. The mission builds on 18 months of joint work with our South African partners to help develop a management plan for the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area.

From April 14 through May 4, you can join us in our efforts at furthering marine conservation around the globe as our delegation posts their stories and photographs from Africa. Click on the sidebar photos to learn about the delegation’s current activities.

The members of the U.S. delegation and their areas of expertise include:

Lad Akins, Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), (research, diving, volunteer activities)
Carol Bernthal, NMSP, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. (marine protected area management and onsite operations)
Ted Beuttler, NOS Office of the General Counsel, (regulation and legal infrastructure development)
Francesca Cava, Sustainable Seas Expeditions, National Geographic Society (education and outreach)
Robert Currul, State of Florida Marine Patrol (enforcement)
Clement Lewsey, International Program Office, National Ocean Service Project Coordinator (coastal zone management, international development)
Elizabeth Moore, National Marine Sanctuary Program Headquarters Program Analyst, (MPA management and policy planning, Sanctuary Advisory Councils)
Rebecca Shortland, State of Georgia, Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary Policy and Planning Coordinator, (MPA management and policy planning, advisory councils, onsite operations)

Aliwal Shoal is located south of Durban and is approximately two miles offshore of the mid-southeast coast of the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa.

The Republic of South Africa and the United States are both responsible for managing MPAs. While both the United States and South Africa are viewed as leaders in MPA management, each country differs in their ocean management policies. South Africa has large strictly managed MPAs that provide full protection to the marine life within them, whereas the United States MPAs tend to provide fewer protections. Marine protected areas in the United States enjoy public recognition, adequate funding, and extensive infrastructure. However, South African MPAs have not enjoyed the national status afforded to MPAs in the United States, and funding has been vastly inadequate. Two years ago, both countries entered into a joint training and exchange program to share experiences and knowledge, build capacities, and strengthen each nation’s ability to manage and protect its marine resources.

During Phase I, the U.S. National Marine Sanctuary Program hosted five groups from South Africa. Twenty MPA managers from the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service visited the United States to take part in these groups. Each visiting group was focused on one of the following specific aspects of MPA operation: management planning, research and monitoring, enforcement, advisory councils/community involvement, and education and outreach.

Visitors began each visit with a week at the NMSP headquarters office where they received in-depth training on sanctuary management, science, and education/outreach programs. The NMSP staff also had the opportunity to learn from the experiences and knowledge of the South African MPA managers. Each group then spent one to two weeks visiting selected sanctuaries around the country, observing operations firsthand and interacting with on-site staff.

South Africa invited U.S. MPA managers to assist in the development of the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area Management Plan as part of the program’s Phase II.

Aliwal Shoal Resources

Aliwal Shoal, named after the ship Aliwal that wrecked there in 1849, is a live-bottom habitat formed of sandstone caves, pinnacles, and gullies with large colonies of soft coral and sponges. The shoal is about two miles offshore the mid-southeast coast of the South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province and runs about two miles long in a north-south direction. The site boasts many fish and invertebrate species, as well as moray eels, manta rays, sea turtles, and dolphins. The ragged tooth shark is a seasonal winter visitor and considered a prime attraction.

For a comparable National Marine Sanctuary, visit the Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Georgia at http://www.graysreef.nos.noaa.gov/.


Aliwal Shoal is a very popular dive spot with many dive charter operations in the area. The three shipwrecks in the area have become popular dive spots: Aliwal, the Nebo (1884) and the Produce (1974). The site also sees intensive commercial line fishing and spear fishing. Over time such intense use resulted in both increasing pressure on the resources of the site, as well as user conflicts. In the mid-1990s, the Aliwal Shoal Forum brought interested individuals and user groups together to decide what level of protection was needed for the area. Currently, an MPA is proposed to help manage and conserve Aliwal Shoal.

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