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South Africa

Schleyer, M.N., Beckley, L.E., Fennessy, S.T., Fielding, P.J., Govender, A., Mann, B.Q., Robertson, W.D., Tomalin, B.J. and Van Der Elst, R.P> (2000) South Africa. In: Sheppard, C.R.C., (ed.) Seas at the millennium - an environmental evaluation - Volume 2. Elsevier Science Inc., Netherlands, pp. 133-144.


The South African coastline stretches from the mouth of the Orange River in the northwest to Kosi Bay in the northeast, a distance of some 3000 km. It covers a wide range of habitats from kelp beds to mangrove forests and coral reefs. The Benguela ecosystem on the west coast is characterised by upwelling and extends from Cape Point northwards, constituting the Namaqua biogeographic province. The warm temperate Agulhas biogeographic province is found on the south coast from Cape Point to East London and the Natal biogeographic province along the sub-tropical east coast. Marine biodiversity in south Africa is particularly high as a result of this environmental variability. Commercial, recreational and subsistence fisheries are discussed, many of which are harvested sustainably because of conservation legislation instituted by management agencies. There is no room for complacency, however, as there has been a serious depletion in some instances. Demographic pressures on the estuarine and coastal environments are cause for concern as well as the popular misconception of the sea providing an endless supply of food and as a repository for unlimited waste.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Elsevier Science Inc.
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