Photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – Eight public hearings will be hosted across the city over the next four weeks during which residents and interested parties can engage on the new draft by-law intended to protect and open access to Cape Town's beaches.

Broadly, the proposed by-law addresses poaching, illegal fishing, the harvesting or removal of vegetation, sand, pebbles, rocks, shells and kelp, among others.

“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 to the coast,” said Mayco member for spatial planning and environment Marian Nieuwoudt.

“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 or putting up signs with ‘no-access’ messages.

“Our coastline belongs to all South Africans, and the by-law will be used to entrench this right,” Nieuwoudt said.

The draft by-law is intended to create safer and cleaner beaches, free from litter and pollution, to protect sea life from poaching and to enforce the public’s right to access and enjoy our beaches and sea.

It also addresses encroachment of private property into the coastal environment, as well as hawking or doing business without authorisation, and allows for the issuing of fines for contraventions

Public hearings will be held in Blaauwberg, Milnerton, Fish Hoek, the city centre, Mitchells Plain, Macassar, Khayelitsha and Strand.

The draft by-law is available to be viewed for public comment until September 2.

The dates for hearings can be found at: http://www.capetown.gov.za/City-Connect/Have-your- say/Issues-open-for-public-comment/draft-coastal-by-law at all subcouncil offices as well as at libraries across Cape Town.

“Our coastline draws millions of tourists and local visitors every year.

“We cannot overestimate the significant potential it offers for economic growth.

“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,” Nieuwoudt said.