Cape Town - Submissions on the Western Cape Biodiversity Bill were discussed by the Standing Committee on Agriculture with comments that varied from supportive to contentious.
Submissions were made by Birdlife SA, the City, the Department of Community Safety, Department of Agriculture, Department of Transport and Public Works, South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi), Western Cape Biosphere Reserves NPC, Wildlife Ranching SA, Agri WC, Salga, Drakenstein, Whale Coast Conservation, Wildlife Animal Protection SA and Wildlife Ranchers’ Forum.
Biodiversity and Coastal management director Marlene Laros said they received a number of varying comments on the draft framework bill ranging from language used to arrangements of the sections set out.
A few of the submissions suggested they increase Marine Protected Areas (MPA) both offshore, coast and estuary and that the framework ban all blood sport of competitive wild fish in the deep sea, coast or estuary.
To this, Laros said MPAs and the implementation of the Marine Living Resources Act were the exclusive legislative domain of national government and that CapeNature was currently appointed as management authority by the national Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment for some MPAs in the province.
In their submission on the regulation of wildlife sanctuaries, game farms and similar commercial activities, Whale Coast Conservation said they strongly believed the commercial exploitation of wild animals confined to small encampments for breeding and close interaction with tourists should be regulated.
The conservation group said the Act should incorporate powers for CapeNature to set down criteria with which such enterprises must comply.
Committee chairperson Andricus van der Westhuizen said that although they received draft input from the national department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, it was likely that they would be receiving a formal input from the department that would alter the bill before their next meeting on September 14.
“It is effectively the third time we are getting public comment and input and we think it strengthened the work significantly,” said Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning chief director Karen Shippey.