The City of Cape Town has proposed a new by-law to protect the city's beaches. Photo: Supplied / City of Cape Town

Cape Town – The City of Cape Town will soon put out a draft by-law to protect its precious coastline from encroachment, poaching activities and other damaging actions.

In a statement, the City said it would soon publicise the draft Coastal By-law for public participation, with the intention being to "better protect and manage our coastline, which is one of Cape Town’s most important and valued assets".

"Cape Town is synonymous with rolling waves, rocky shores, dolphins, whales, and sunsets on pristine beaches," said the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Marian Nieuwoudt. 

"Our coastline draws millions of tourists and local visitors every year; it is central to our identity, and gives us 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."

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

The draft by-law will be applicable to the coastal zone, which covers the seashore, the coastal waters and the environment on, in, under and above the coastal zone.

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

Vissuing 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," said Nieuwoudt.

The City added that the by-law will be a legislative tool to entrench and enforce the public’s right to freely access and enjoy the 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; and manage access to and the use of public amenities on the beach and beach areas.

It is also intended to enable better regulation, protection and governance of the coastline as a sensitive and economically valuable asset, and to ensure measures are taken to rehabilitate or correct actions that have a damaging impact on the coastal environment.

African News Agency (ANA)