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During the first in a series of 12 public participation meetings in George on April 10, Eden District set in motion a process that overtakes all other SA municipalities bordering maritime reserves. Dr Aidan Wood of Rhodes University has been retained by Eden District to create a Coastal Management Programme (CMP) for the 308km of coastline between Witsand’s Breede and Bloukrans River in the Tsitsikamma.
Existing legislation dictates that all municipalities with a coastal edge are obliged to complete a CMP under the requirements of the Integrated Coastal Management Act No 8 of 2008, and Eden took national lead in this process.
The content of a CMP is flexible, allowing for adaptation to local needs, but typically includes directives covering tourism, infrastructure, biodiversity conservation, water quality, compliance with existing laws, education and awareness, disaster management, cultural and heritage resources, sustainable livelihoods, and economic development.
After hosting six public participation meetings along the coast during April, Dr Wood has been tasked with preparing a Draft CMP for review in the same locations during June, with the objective of publishing the final document by end-July. He encouraged affected parties to submit their input to him at email@example.com should they feel they have a contribution to make.
Dr Wood said that the area under review included a strip 1km inland from the high water mark, and 12 nautical miles out to sea along the 308km area, covering the tidal sections of rivers defined as the River Estuarine Interface. Although the initial meeting in George had a disappointing attendance with some 40 participants only, the event was marked by lively discussion among those concerned that the CMP could override existing approvals for private homes, businesses, and other amenities.
Dr Wood said it was unlikely that this would be the case unless, for instance, existing plans did not make adequate provision for rising water levels, or if they did not take into account a response to the possibility of natural disasters.
Concerns were expressed on topics such as the toxicity of rivers after passing through informal settlements, littering at beach access points, pollution when untreated sewage was allowed to enter the marine environment, illegal boat sites, and lacking supervision of excessive fish catches. Further meetings were held in Mossel Bay, Still Bay, Witsand, Knysna, and Plettenberg Bay from April 11-17.
Author: Bob Hopkin