South Africa: Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Invites Comments On Draft Amendments to National Estuarine Management Protocol

press release

Public comment invited on the draft amendments to the National Estuarine Management Protocol

Draft amendments to the National Estuarine Management Protocol have been published by the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries for public comment in Government Gazette 43474 (Notice No. 705).

The draft amendments address certain implementation issues and the impact of the Supreme Court of Appeal judgement in Abbott v Overstrand Municipality (99/2015) [2016] ZASCA 68, which found that the assignment of functions to municipalities in the existing Protocol presented Constitutional challenges as the assignment should have been done in terms of Integrated Coastal Management Act, and not the Protocol.

The Notice has been published in terms of the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act.

Estuaries are highly productive ecosystems that contribute an estimated R4.2 billion per annum to the South African economy. Estuaries provide warm, shallow and calm waters along the coast, and are highly productive, thanks to inputs of nutrients from both the land and sea. These characteristics, together with their scenic appeal, make them focal points for development, tourism and recreation, as well as important for supporting biodiversity, livelihoods and marine fisheries.

The National Biological Assessment published in 2019, states that the main pressures impacting marine ecosystems and species include fishing, freshwater flow reduction, coastal development (including ports and harbours), pollution and climate change. South African ocean activities are expanding and diversifying as South Africa develops its ocean economy. Emerging pressures include increasing pollution concerns, desalination and ocean noise. These productive areas, of which South Africa has about 300 along the coast, are also being threatened by habitat modification as a result of urban, industrial, agricultural and infrastructural development, and manipulation of the mouths of estuaries.

The draft amendment sets the standards to ensure effective integrated management of the unique environmental, economic and social aspects of each estuary. It includes the co-operative management of these coastal zones through all spheres of government. This includes the management of estuaries within a single municipality by that authority, and joint management of estuaries that fall within the boundaries of two municipalities, or are found in cross-border provincial areas. In each instance either a single or joint Environmental Management Plan which would have to meet certain minimum requirements would be required.

Members of the public are invited to submit written comments or inputs to the Minister by 26 July 2020 to the following addresses:

By hand to: The Deputy Director-General

Attention: Mr Ruwen Pillay

Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries: Oceans and Coast

2 East Pier Building, East Pier Road

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town

By post to: The Deputy Director-General

Attention: Mr Ruwen Pillay

Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries: Oceans and Coast

Private Bag X4390

CAPE TOWN, 8000

By e-mail: rupillay@environment.gov.za

For access the government gazette, click on:

https://www.gov.za/documents/national-environmental-management-integrated-coastal-management-act-national-estuarine-0

Comments received after the closing date may not be considered.

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