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Aliwal Shoal MPA

Umkomaas, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Management Authority – Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

The Aliwal Shoal MPA was declared in 2004 and it extends from high water mark to 7 km offshore of the town of Umkomaas KwaZulu-Natal on the South Coast. Along the shore the boundaries of the MPA are between Mzimayi River to the Umkomaas River mouth. The coastline of the MPA extends 18.3 kilometres. The Aliwal shoal was named after the Aliwal, a ship that sailed from London in September 1849 and was nearly wrecked on the reef. The reef itself is 1,5 km wide and situated approximately 5 kms off-shore from the Umkomaas River mouth ,on the inner edge of the Agulhas Current. The shoal is approximately 5 km in length, it runs in a north/south direction and ranges in depth from 5 to 27 meters. The reef itself was an ancient shoreline that was fossilized almost 80 000 years ago.

The reef has claimed two ships to date, the first being the Nebo which was on its maiden voyage in 1884 and lies at a depth of 25 meters and the second being the Produce a 2000 ton bulk carrier which sank in 1974 and now lies at a depth of 30 meters. Both structures can still be seen today and are popular dive sites.

Aliwal Shoal is situated on the inner edge of the Agulhas Current which runs along the east coast of Southern Africa bringing with it warm water and a huge diversity of tropical sea life. This offers Scuba divers with a varied, spectacular and thrilling adventure. From July to December the Shoal is the congregation point for ragged tooth sharks, where up to 60 sharks have been encountered at one time. Marine life also includes an abundance of soft corals and sponges and the associated reef fish, tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks, zambezi sharks, whale sharks, sea turtles, potato and brindle bass.

The importance of the MPA is to protect and conserve the marine environment and biodiversity of the area. The no take area (Crown area and Produce) were zoned to reduce user conflict.
The Aliwal Shoal is valuable in promoting and regulating ecotourism activities, enhances research and education projects.

The MPA was declared under section 43 of the Marine Living Resources Act, 18 0f 1998,this regulates and limits the activities that can take place within the defined boundaries of this area, and these include the water, seabed and the airspace to 500 meters above sea level within the following boundaries:

The high water mark between the mouth of the Mkomazi River at position
30° 11’’ 92’ S; 30° 48’’ 29’ E and the mouth of the Mzimayi River at position 30° 20’’ 80’ S; 30° 43’’ 60’ E.
A line drawn south east (115° true bearing) from the north bank of the mouth
of the Mkomazi River to a point 7 km offshore at position 30° 13’’ 478’ S;
30° 52’’ 246’ E.

A line drawn south east (115° true bearing) from the mouth of the Mzimayi
River to a position 7 km offshore at 30° 22’’ 41’ S; 30° 47’’ 53’ E
A straight line running parallel to the shore joining the two offshore

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