Cape Town is synonymous with rolling waves, rocky shores, dolphins, whales, and sunsets on pristine beaches. The coastline draws millions of tourists and local visitors every year; it is central to the city’s identity, and gives Capetonians a sense of place and pride.

“We also cannot overestimate the importance of the coast to our local economy. It is a public asset that must be preserved and protected for current and future generations. The draft by-law will assist us to better manage our coastline and enable law enforcement of activities that may have a damaging impact on the coastal environment,” said Mayco Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Marian Nieuwoudt.

The draft by-law will be open to public comment from August 1 until September 2 2019. The City will also host eight public hearings across Cape Town during this time where residents can ask questions and comment.

The draft by-law will be applicable to the coastal zone, which is a public area that belongs to all South Africans. It covers the seashore, the coastal waters, and the environment on, in, under, and above the coastal zone.

Broadly speaking, the proposed by-law addresses the following:

– poaching, or illegal fishing

– harvesting, or removal of vegetation

– removal of sand, pebbles, rocks, shells, and kelp

– removal of or damage to indigenous coastal vegetation

– littering

– pollution and dumping

– encroachment of private property into the coastal environment

– measures to remove encroachments, and rehabilitate affected land

– possession or consumption of liquor or drugs

– hawking or doing business without authorisation

– launching of vessels

– issuing of fines for contraventions

“One of the most important aspects of the proposed by-law is that it will give the City the legislative powers to enforce the public’s right to access and enjoy our beaches and sea. Some residents are claiming the beaches or parcels of land in front of their properties as their own private areas by either extending their homes or gardens, sinking swimming pools, or building walkways with ‘no-access’ signs on it. Our coastline belongs to all South Africans, and the by-law will be used to entrench this right,” Nieuwoudt said.

The by-law will be a legislative tool used to, among other things:

– entrench and enforce the public’s right to freely access and enjoy our coastline;

– ensure the sustainable use and development of the coastal area;

– promote the protection of the natural environment of the coastal zone;

– manage and promote public access to beaches and beach areas;

– prevent anti-social behaviour on beaches and beach areas;

– manage access to and the use of public amenities on the beach and beach areas;

– enable better regulation, protection, and governance of the coastline as a sensitive and economically valuable asset; and

– ensure measures are taken to rehabilitate or correct actions that have a damaging impact on the coastal environment.

Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.