The West Coast District Municipality is getting to grips with the management of the coastal zone in a sustainable and integrated way by appointing consulting engineers and scientists to assess the current situation and propose a strategy going forward.

The West Coast District Municipality (WCDM) appointed leading consulting engineers and scientists SRK Consulting to develop an Integrated Coastal Management Programme (ICMP) for its area of jurisdiction, in conjunction with the relevant local municipalities of Bergrivier, Cederberg, Matzikama, Saldanha Bay and Swartland. In keeping with the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act 24 of 2008, the primary objectives of the ICMP are to articulate the current state of the WCDM coastal environment, identify effective strategies to address the key coastal management challenges and to identify institutional structural and capacity needs to enable government to respond to existing management gaps and the roles and responsibilities outlined in the Act.

Governing regulations

The National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act was assented to by the Presidency in February 2009 to facilitate the achievement of the following purposes:
  • to establish a system of integrated coastal and estuarine management in the country, including norms, standards and policies, in order to promote the conservation of the coastal environment and maintain the natural attributes of coastal landscapes and seascapes, as well as to ensure that development and the use of natural resources within the coastal zone is socially and economically justifiable and ecologically sustainable
  • to define the rights and duties in relation to coastal areas
  • to determine the responsibilities of organs of state in relation to coastal areas
  • to prohibit incineration at sea, to control dumping at sea, pollution in the coastal zone, inappropriate development of the coastal environment and other adverse effects on the coastal environment
  • to give effect to South Africa’s international obligations in relation to coastal matters
  • to provide for matters connected therewith.
Section 48(1) of the Act states that: “A coastal municipality must, within four years of the commencement of the Act, prepare and adopt a municipal coastal management programme for managing the coastal zone or specific parts of the coastal zone in the municipality.”

According to Scott Masson, environmental consultant at SRK’s Cape Town office, the status quo assessment is the first phase of the project and will investigate aspects such as coastal livelihoods, the management of marine living resources, sustainable and unsustainable coastal development, sources of pollution and waste management, and access to the coast.“This includes looking at aspects of coastal management programmes within and outside South Africa, and looking at practices and procedures at municipal and provincial level,” said Masson. “We will also be evaluating the capacity of the five local municipalities and the district municipality to address the requirements of the Act.”

Input from the private sector, parastatals and civil society has already been gleaned through a series of stakeholder workshops to identify key areas of concern and to start building a common vision to manage the coastal zone.

In the second phase of the project, a strategy will be developed to address the priority issues, to clarify the roles and responsibilities of various relevant state agencies, and to consider the costs and benefits of priority options. It will also lead to the establishment of a Municipal Coastal Committee to help implement the strategy.

“In the third and final stage of the work, the current by-laws governing the management of the coast will be evaluated and a new coastal management by-law will be drafted to address priority issues,” said Masson.