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Management of the Coastal and Marine Environments


Project Duration: Long Term

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The following are sections from Ugu Lwethu - Our Coast (Goble et al., 2014). Contributions are from a range of authors all of whom are credited per section.

The coastal zone is a dynamic environment that requires careful management and protection. Coastal management, as a discourse, has gone through various stages of development, both globally and locally. There are now a number of mechanisms aimed at improving the management of the coast, both naturally and internationally.

Coastal Legislation

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From a legislative point of view, the South African coastal zone has been in a vacuum for a number of years, with legislation governing coastal management being fragmented across the land/sea boundary. As a result, governance of the coastal environment is also fragmented, with different departments and spheres of government taking on different management functions in order to meet their sometimes conflicting mandate. A range of historic and existing statutes have shaped coastal management in South Africa and consequently in KZN.

Photo: Bronwyn Goble

Photo: Bronwyn Goble

Implementation of the ICM Act

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South Africa can boast about having arguably the finest coastal management policy and legislation anywhere. For the first time ever the coast is treated as a single but multi-sectoral resource for the benefit of all, representing a cornerstone for development. Yet, laws are only as good as their supporting infrastructure and effective implementation.

International Agreements

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There are a great many international agreements and conventions that guide and set standards for environmental management around the world. These stimulate and support the development of domestic legislation. South Africa is party to about 100 such instruments, a number of which have implications for coastal protection and management. Many of these agreements are co-ordinated by international non-governmental agencies, most under the aegis of the United Nations. Such agreements bestow rights and responsibilities on coastal managers, including several directly relevant to KZN.

Photo: Melissa Palmer

Photo: Camilla Floros

Marine Protected Areas

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Marine protected areas (MPAs), also known as marine reserves or marine parks, are important tools used to conserve the biodiversity of the marine environment and to maintain productivity, especially of harvested fish stocks. The IUCN has defined MPAs as “any area of intertidal or subtidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment”.

NGOs and CBOs

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The management of the coast is complex, requiring input from a range of stakeholders in order to make it effective. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs) are playing an increasing role in the conservation and management of the coast. NGOs have emerged in the last few decades as principal advocates of marine conservation and coastal management in KZN.

Photo: David Allen

Management of the Coastal and Marine Environment PDF




Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

University of KwaZulu Natal

SAAMBR/ Coastwatch KZN

Research Funders


Bronwyn Goble

Melissa Lewis

Omar Parak

Rudy van der Elst

Bruce Mann

Jean Harris

Tamsyn Livingstone

Judy Mann