Towards the declaration of a large marine protected area: a subtidal ichthyofaunal survey of the Pondoland coast in the Eastern Cape, South Africa
AbstractA subtidal marine ichthyofaunal survey was carried out on shallow reefs (1–30m deep) in the Pondoland region between the Mtamvuna River and Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The purpose of this survey was to provide the baseline data required for the zonation of a large marine protected area proposed for the region. Survey work was carried out in May and June during 2002 and 2003. A seafloor map based on earlier seismic-reflection profiling data, coupled with fishers' co-ordinates of known reefs in the area, was used to plan the survey. An underwater visual census (UVC), using the point-count method, assessed fish diversity, relative abundance and size structure. During the UVC, a total of 261 point fish-counts, covering an area of 14 288m2, was completed. A total of 138 fish species from 49 different families was identified and a relatively high proportion of endemic species (26.6%) were recorded. As a result of the turbid conditions encountered south of Mbotyi, numbers and diversity of fish species observed declined with increasing latitude. Endemic sparid linefish species, which are overexploited in other areas, were particularly abundant in this region, and a number of new range distributions of various species were recorded during the survey. The results of this survey contributed towards the zonation of the Pondoland Marine Protected Area, which was proclaimed in June 2004.
Keywords: Eastern Cape; fisheries management; ichthyofaunal survey; marine protected area; point counts; Pondoland coast; underwater visual census
African Journal of Marine Science 2006, 28(3&4): 535–551