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Minister Molewa gazettes draft Orange River Mouth and Durban Bay Estuarine Management Plans for comments

03 November 2015

The Minister of Environmental Affairs has on Friday, 30 October 2015, published theOrange River Mouth and Durban Bay individual Estuarine Management Plans (EMPs) in Government Gazette No. 39347 for public comment.

The EMPs were developed in terms of the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act (No. 28 of 2008) (as amended) and National Estuarine Management Protocol. As a responsible management authority for the development of EMPs for estuaries that are within a harbour/ port and that cross state boundary in consultation and collaboration with the managing organ of state for harbours, relevant municipalities and relevant government departments, the draft EMPs have now been gazetted for public comments.

South Africa is endowed with approximately 300 estuaries along a coastline of around 3400km, which are under threat due to minimum management. These estuaries provide high biodiversity and productivity; and provide a range of environmental and socio-economic benefits. The condition of these estuaries continues to deteriorate due to negative human activities such as habitat alteration, over-exploitation of living resources, change in water quality and quantity. When their conditions deteriorate, the socio-economic and environmental benefits are also reduced. According to the Provisional Health Assessment by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (2008) undertaken to determine estuary condition, Durban Bay Estuary was found to be in a parlous state, placing the system in Category of E (seriously modified) and Orange River Mouth has been determined to be in a largely modified state as reflected by the D Category.

The Orange River Mouth is regarded as the 2nd most important estuary in South Africa in terms of conservation importance, after the Knysna Estuary, and it represents one of four globally important coastal wetlands (the others being Walvis Bay lagoon, Sandwich Harbour and the Kunene River mouth). It is a rare and unusual wetland type on the arid and semi-arid coastline of Western and Southern Africa and supports a high diversity and abundance of estuarine dependant and marine fish species. It is one of very few estuaries along this coastline that is believed to provide an important role in linking fish populations among Angola, Namibia and South Africa and offers valuable tourism opportunities for communities in the area that can contribute to the long-term economic viability of the region.

The Durban Bay is one of the estuaries that fulfil the importance of social and economic functions. The Port of Durban is a leading container port in the southern hemisphere, and one of the national economy’s key assets. Moreover, it is a vital resource for the citizens of Durban to access recreational, subsistence and other social benefits. However, the ecosystem has been compromised to the point that it has lost resilience for various reasons related to both the port uses and the socio-economic activities undertaken within the catchments which drain into the Bay. Yet, while the environment has become significantly degraded, it nevertheless remains an estuary of local, regional and even national significance.

The main purpose of developing these EMPs is to facilitate a balance between ecological processes and human activities while considering sustainable use of estuarine resources. This is achieved by identifying management actions that need to be implemented by various sector departments.

Members of the public are invited to submit, within 30 (thirty) days after the publication of this notice in the Gazette, written representations on or objections to the draft plans. Written representations received after this time may not be considered. All representations must be submitted in writing to:

Hand-deliver to: The Deputy Director-General

Attention: Mr Xola Mkefe

Department of Environmental Affairs
Branch: Oceans & Coasts
2 East Pier Building, East Pier Road
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town

By post to: The Deputy Director-General
Department of Environmental Affairs
Branch: Oceans & Coasts
P.O. Box 52126
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town

Attention: Mr Xola Mkefe

By e-mail to:

Enquiries: Ms Ntombovuyo Madlokazi (021 819 2473)

An electronic copy of the draft EMPs can be downloaded from the links below:

Download the Mouth Bay BMP 

Download the Durban Bay BMP

For media queries contact:
Zolile Nqayi
082 898 6483