ECOLOGICAL DISASTER LOOMS FOR RAMSAR WETLAND
Save Langebaan Lagoon Action Group urgently needs your help in exposing a threatening environmental crisis:
Most people associate the South African coastal town of Langebaan with the dramatic scenic beauty of the unspoilt tidal lagoon, its long stretches of pristine beaches and sheltered bays, providing protected waters and a temperate climate for a wide variety of sport and leisure activities throughout the year.
However, this Marine Protected Area, an accredited Ramsar wetland site of international importance and tourist hot spot is now under considerable threat of ecological degradation from plans by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to develop an industrial-scale, sea-based aquaculture zone (ADZ), spanning 884 hectares.
Situated in the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve, Langebaan is a birding destination of international repute. Fish farming operations will adversely impact habitats, breeding patterns, flight paths and access to food and place these sensitive and threatened avian colonies at high risk.
Aquaculture is promoted by DAFF as an opportunity for job creation. However, the number of new jobs forecast for the aquaculture zone is negligible in comparison with current verifiable employment statistics in the hospitality and tourism sectors of Langebaan. These high-growth sectors are likely to experience a dramatic collapse as Langebaan loses its status as a desirable destination.
Further, DAFF emphasises the imperative of food security as one of the key justifications for the development, yet much of the harvest is destined for high-end markets, both in South Africa and abroad.
The area approved for the proposed development overlaps significantly with the area traditionally fished by Langebaan’s small-scale fishers. The development will ensure that this disadvantaged community is prevented from accessing their livelihoods, despite a High Court judgment in 2016 that recognised that the fishers have a legally enforceable right to fish these waters.
Peer-reviewed scientific evidence, collected over 25 years, irrefutably shows that the Langebaan lagoon and its Big Bay waters intermingle. If the proposed development is not stopped, the iconic expansive, uncluttered vistas of tranquil turquoise waters will soon be visually polluted by fish and mussel farming infrastructure spread across a significant area. Largely unrestricted enjoyment of these waters will become curtailed through no-go zones around the fish farms and the likelihood of no-access days due to toxic effluent contamination, an unavoidable and common by-product of open cage sea-based aquaculture. The sustainability of the richly diverse marine ecosystem of the Langebaan lagoon, and the welfare of the communities who live on her shores, is inextricably dependent upon the health of this valuable wetland system.
Since February 2017, the Save Langebaan Lagoon Action Group, a registered NGO, has challenged, objected, educated, researched, organised and mobilised in order to let our collective voice be heard.
With a favourable independent legal assessment of the merits of SLL’s case that shows a good prospect of success, Save Langebaan Lagoon is now preparing to challenge these authorisations in the High Court. As such, on Tuesday 14th May 2019 we filed an application with the Cape High Court for a judicial review of the decision by the Minister of Environmental Affairs to grant authorisations for this ecological and socio-economic injustice.
Since its inception, Save Langebaan Lagoon has coordinated their opposition campaign with a core team of dedicated volunteers, including an environmental law specialist who has provided her services pro bono. However, our expert legal team estimates legal costs of approximately R2 million ($140 000; £110 000; €125 000) in order to take our case to court. We therefore urgently need as many advocates for environmental justice (THAT’S YOU!) to get behind our fight, join the outrage and help to globally broadcast our story on your websites, your blogs, print and online media and social network platforms.
All donations made are administered independently by a registered accounting practice. Save Langebaan Lagoon is fully accountable to its funders.
For additional information please visit www. savelangebaanlagoon.co.za, or
our Facebook page https://web.facebook.com/groups/385882191781246/
This comes at a time when the protection of South Africa’s oceans and marine life is gaining new momentum with an additional 20 Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) having been gazetted:
SOUTH AFRICA’S MARINE PROTECTION INCREASED BY THE NEW REPRESENTATIVE NETWORK OF OPERATION PHAKISA: OCEANS ECONOMY MARINE PROTECTED AREAS
28 MAY 2019
The gazetting of a network of 20 new representative Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) has increased South Africa’s marine ecosystem area under protection in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), from the current 0.4% to 5.4%, to provide protection to 90% of habitat types, as well as contribute to global protection in line with South Africa’s international commitments.
The new network strives to support multiple objectives for biodiversity in alignment with oceans economy goals. The new MPAs represent seamounts, submarine canyons, volcanic pinnacles, and a variety of ecosystem types on the shelf, continental margin, and abyss in both the Indian and Atlantic oceans. The new network also provides the first protection for several threatened and fragile ecosystem types, including threatened mud, gravel, and shelf edge habitats and sensitive deep water scleractianian, stylasterine, and soft coral-dominated ecosystem types.
This new network of 20 MPAs will, among other things, contribute to fisheries sustainability, advance marine ecotourism, and will help maintain resilience in ecosystems that are under stress from climate change.
Work on the new approved network of MPAs dates back to 2014, when the South African government endorsed a plan to achieve, as part of Operation Phakisa: Ocean Economy, a viable network of MPAs. South Africa’s ocean space, which is one of the most varied in the world, is highly productive with rich biodiversity providing for living and non-living resources that contribute significantly to the country’s economy and to job creation.
MPAs provide safe spaces in which fish can breed undisturbed. They are essential to maintain eco-certification of the South African deep-sea trawl fishery. This certification process assesses whether habitat and nursery areas for the hake fishery, are adequately protected. MPAs also contribute to growing South Africa’s marine eco-tourism sector by providing undisturbed natural habitat for whales, sharks, seals, dolphins, turtles and seabirds for international and domestic tourists to experience.
An adequate network of MPAs will also provide the basis for ongoing resilience to the impact of climate change. Oceans are an essential component of the climate system, absorbing and transferring heat, and regulating the exchange of carbon dioxide (CO2) with the atmosphere. With increasing CO2 levels, and rising ocean temperatures, this regulatory capacity is at risk. The network of MPAs will assist in building ecological resilience, and therefore social and economic resilience in the growing ocean economy.
The new MPA network is a product of extensive consultation and negotiation with all stakeholders, which sought to ensure that the network is aligned with relevant policies and priorities for fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, as well as marine mining and oil exploration, while also protecting ecologically important areas.
Please see the links for the declaration notices and the regulations respectively as well as unique features of Operation Phakisa MPAs:
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS