Zandvlei Trust

Cape Town  - Environmental Law Enforcent Unit.

CAPE Estuaries Programme: Implementation of the Estuary Management Plan (EMP) for the Zandvlei Estuary, Muizenberg, Cape Town.

 The City of Cape Towns specialised Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit.

The City of Cape Town has over 300km’s of coastline, one of its greatest economic, social and environmental assets. Although the City’s jurisdiction is determined by the high-water mark, economic, recreational, environmental and illegal activities operate across these jurisdictional boundaries. The inshore marine and coastal environment including the adjacent terrestrial environment is a central component to Cape Town offering many positive opportunities and attributes. Unfortunately, the trend of illegal activities and the lack of adherence to our country’s laws and City’s by-laws are impacting negatively on the marine and coastal environment and have strong relationships with organised crime and the drug trade within Cape Town with a subsequent negative impact on residents, local livelihood opportunities and the ecotourism potential of our city.

Marine and coastal management is a national government competency, but extent of the coastline, vast coastal waters associated with resource shortages, institutional complications, and a highly driven criminal element has resulted in limited actual and visible policing in the inshore marine and coastal environment.

There is increasing recognition that under-resourced local inshore coastal and marine law enforcement has a direct relationship with Cape Town’s many social challenges, including:

  • Loss of recreational areas for the general public due to criminal activity and related safety concerns.

  • Lawlessness across the spectrum from minor offences to serious offences being considered the societal norm with little or no consequences.

  • Poor public perception of the authorities’ ability to regulate and manage society in an equitable and fair manner.

  • Natural resource depletion, through unsustainable practices, impacting on economic and employment sustainability, including the adjacent terrestrial biodiversity areas that are also under severe pressure from illegal harvesting with over 300 species, at an estimated 216 000kg/yr, being illegally harvested out off Cape Town’s natural areas.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has an active programme in supporting municipalities to become operationally effective in the near inshore marine and coastal environment within municipal boundaries in order that they may support DAFF’s law enforcement and compliance efforts. Cape Town stands to be one of the first beneficiaries of this unique and new approach by DAFF. This in conjunction with the City of Cape Town prioritising law enforcement and compliance as one of the key strategies to create the Opportunity City, the Safe City, the Caring City, the Inclusive City and the Well-run City has resulted in a new partnership between the City and a number of other law enforcement agencies.

Following a two day workshop held in June of 2012, convened in partnership between the Department Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the City of Cape Town, it was agreed and recognised that a proactive multi-agency collaboration was needed to further address marine law enforcement. This workshop resolved that considering illegal activities, economies, safety and ecology took place across jurisdictional boundaries, the most appropriate means of effective policing and enforcement was through a collaborative Cape Town Marine and Coastal Law Enforcement and Compliance Task Team. The task team is chaired and led by DAFF and is tasked with multi-agency action, shared information and collective outcomes in the best interests of all of our citizens.

The Task Team was officially established in September 2012 and comprises representatives from the Department Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, City of Cape Town Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit, SAPS Borderline Police, Table Mountain National Park Marine Unit, SARS Customs, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Department of Environmental Affairs, CapeNature Conservation and the South African Maritime Safety Association (SAMSA). These are all the agencies responsible for marine and coastal law enforcement, management and regulation. The objective of Task team is to develop and implement a Cooperative Marine and Coastal Compliance and Law Enforcement strategy for the coastal zone within the City of Cape Town Metropole.

As a measure of its commitment to this partnership and role Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman J.P Smith has provided his support and approval for the development of a City of Cape Town Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Strategy and an associated specialised Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit to work directly with this new Task Team. The new specialised and dedicated Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit falls within the City’s law enforcement structures. The Department Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries have been supporting the City in this initiative, including the appointment of City Law Enforcement staff as Fisheries Control Officers in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act. The members of the unit have received specialised training in many aspects of marine and environmental law enforcement. They are also all fully qualified and trained lifeguards.

The Unit will work across the City in response to needs and addressing hotspots of illegal activity and non-compliance, as well as dealing with safety and security at the City’s beaches and coastal resorts. They will provide support to the all the agencies along the City’s coastline and act as a force multiplier when required. They will also be conducting regular inshore boat patrols on the City’s newly acquired law enforcement vessel.

All partners agreed that key to this partnership was regular and on-going joint operations with an increased visible presence along the coastline. This commitment was realised with the first of what will be many joint operations conducted from the 15th to the 18th November 2012. The operation was conducted under the operational command of DAFF and the SAPS Borderline Police, together with the City of Cape Town Marine and Environmental Unit, SARS Customs and the Table Mountain National Park Marine Unit and proved to be highly effective.

The unit has already achieved considerable success through increased visible policing in the coastal zone, stringent enforcing of the City’s by-laws and the Marine Living Resources Act. The unit has also assisted DAFF and SAPS in regulating control at the slipways along the City’s coastline.

Moving into the future the City will build on the current partnerships and inter-agency cooperation that has been established and will also be focussing on awareness around the Marine and Coastal environment and regulations.

Media Enquireies:

Alderman JP Smith,  Mayoral Committee Member: Safety and Security (including Metro Police, Traffic Services, Law Enforcement, Fire and Emergency Rescue Services, Disater Risk Management, 107 Public Emergency Call Centre)

tel: 021 400 1311 fax: 021 400 1312 cell: 083 675 3780

Technical comments:

Mr Arne Purves
Environmental Resouce Management Department, City of Cape Town

cell: 082 940 8937


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