Category: Environmental Management

Upwelling events and fish wash outs explained

The beach is constantly changing, every day will be different.  Sometimes the beach seems empty with very little lying along the high water mark but generally there will be bits of driftwood, soft sponges or hard coral, redbait polyps, shark egg cases and of course bits and pieces of shell. But every now and again something unusual happens, either a rare find or sometimes lots and lots of things wash out at the same time.

Mass washout events of invertebrates and fish species occur intermittently both across our beaches and over time. Until fairly recently these events may have gone relatively unnoticed. However, today an unusual event is quickly advertised through facebook and other online media.

The most recent event in the Garden Route included the washout of relatively high numbers of fish.

Two days prior to wash out we experienced strong and sustained easterly winds.  Driving along the coastline this wind starts to cause the inshore surface waters to move away from the coastline which in turn starts to pull up colder deeper water to the surface.  The easterly winds essentially drive a very large and effective water pump. If the water temperature drops quickly, fish are unable to adapt and are stunned by the cold water. Stunned and unable to swim they then wash ashore.

Although a natural event which provides plenty of easy food for many seabirds and beach scavengers, satellite derived wind data shows that since the early 1990’s the intensity and variability of upwelling along the south coast has increased with potential implications for marine life.

Changes in wind patterns and water temperature have the potential to impact the productivity and species composition of plankton which in turn can influence the abundance of small pelagic fish (e.g. sardines, anchovies) with consequences for larger predators (both fish and bird). In addition an increase in upwelling will increase the offshore movement of surface waters and along with it fish larvae drifting southwards from the more easterly spawning grounds may well be lost.  Ultimately the consequences of increased upwelling are likely to be complex and variable.

During the February upwelling a number of species washed up along the coastline but our surveys of the event indicated that the majority of the fish impacted were juvenile red tjor tjor, santer and maasbanker. Of these santer are an important species within the ski-boat linefishery and we will have to wait and see if this upwelling event will have impacted catch rates in 3 to 4 years when these fish would have been large enough to catch.

Article written by SANParks marine ecologist, Kyle Smith

Eden DM Mayor Signs Durban Commitment

On 27 March 2018, Eden District Municipality (Eden DM) pledged its commitment to the environment when the Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen, signed the Durban Commitment, joining leading local governments from around the world as a partner in the global movement to protect biodiversity.

Cllr Memory Booysen busy signing the Durban Commitment.

The document was signed during a Political Leadership Wetlands Awareness Workshop, which was sponsored by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), as part of their Local Action for Biodiversity (LAB) Wetlands South Africa project. The Durban Commitment is a non-binding commitment and model created by local governments, for local governments and the communities they serve, in order to protect and enhance biodiversity at the local level. The workshop was attended by officials and political leaders from the district and focused on raising awareness on the value wetlands play in sustaining healthy communities and ecosystems.

Cllr Khayalethu Lose, Portfolio Chairperson of Community Services, officially opened and welcomed attendees; he acknowledged the sponsor ICLEI, and thanked them for enhancing awareness of wetlands and biodiversity. Ms Kate Snaddon of the Western Cape Wetlands Forum presented ‘what wetlands are and why they are valuable’.

During the training, it became known that Wetlands are able to purify water by filtering pollutants out of water systems. They are also essential in protecting communities from the impacts of natural disasters such as droughts, as they are in regulating flooding impacts by reducing water flow, acting as sponges that store water and release it slowly. The severity of the impact of droughts and floods are therefore greatly reduced through the natural functioning of wetlands.

Wetlands are considered to be high-value ‘ecological infrastructure’, in that they provide critical ecosystem services within the areas where they occur. Poorer communities are most vulnerable to the impacts of wetland degradation. Many of the plants growing within and around wetlands have natural medicinal properties. Local communities harvest these plants to maintain or improve their personal health. Local communities living within the Eden District commonly harvest reeds from wetlands to make baskets and furniture, grasses for thatching and Arum lilies to sell on the side of the road.

Back fltr: Mr Wouter Jacobs- Eden DM Disaster Management Coordinator, Mr Rian Basson – Disaster Management Intern Researcher, Ms Lee-Ann Joubert – Disaster Management Intern Researcher, Ms Nina Viljoen – Specialist: Environmental Management, Cllr Noluthando Mwati – Deputy Mayor: Oudtshoorn Municipality, Cllr A Dellemijn – Mossel Bay Portfolio Councillor, Mr Siphiwe Dladla – Manager: Office of the Executive Mayor and Mr D Kotze – Deputy Mayor: Mossel Bay Municipality.
Front fltr: Ms Kirsty Robinson – ICLEI Representative, Ms Crystal Brown – Disaster Management Intern Researcher, Ms Gail Bekeer – Administrative Assistant: Disaster Management, Ms Tippie Bouer – Disaster Management Emergency Centre Supervisor, Cllr Memory Booysen – Eden DM Executive Mayor, Cllr Charlotte Clarke – Deputy Mayor: George Municipality, Cllr Khayalethu Lose – Eden DM Portfolio Chairperson: Community Services, Ms Kate Snaddon – Western Cape Wetlands Forum and Ms Machi Majoe – Representative of ICLEI.

In conclusion, the Executive Mayor of Eden DM, Cllr Memory Booysen, thanked the service providers for the insightful training session and said: “Today, I have developed a different view pertaining to wetlands as a whole. I will definitely be an influence to other people. This was indeed an ‘eye-opener’ – I chose to never attend these kind of engagements in the past, but as from today, I am a clever mayor who will look at you from a different perspective as protectors of the environment,” Mayor Booysen said.
By signing the Durban Commitment, the Eden District Municipality pledged its dedication to wetland protection within the Eden district, as well as its commitment towards the implementation of remedial action towards the recovery of degraded and damaged wetlands.

Plea to businesses and industry within the Eden district to adapt operations and behaviour

On Thursday, 09 November 2017, a Water Dialogue was held between the Kannaland Municipality, the Western Cape Government: Department of Economic Development and Tourism and local businesses and business associations within Kannaland in order to enable and facilitate a collective response to the serious drought and water security risks within the Western Cape.

This dynamic and vital dialogue session included information sharing and discussions on the current status of water shortages within the province, the economic risks of the water shortages, response actions by government and business taken to reduce these risks, the development of water services and technologies, business support available and how partnerships can be formed to respond collectively to the water crisis.

Business and industry are recognised as the drivers of the economy and development within the Eden district. Eden District Municipality and the Western Cape Government would therefore like to call on all businesses and industry to meter their water use, so as to identify and fix leaks and identify and reduce wasteful water usage; adjust processes and behaviour to only use water when required and in the most efficient way; apply water conservation measures such as installing  water sensitive fixtures; install alternative, more water sensitive operations and methods; replace water intensive equipment with more efficient technologies, install alternative water resource technologies such as rainwater harvesting, greywater re-use, blackwater recycling, groundwater usage; recycle water used within operations; and make employees and customers aware of the seriousness of the current situation so that they do everything possible to reduce their water use at work as well as at home. Businesses are also encouraged to understand the level of risk that their Western Cape based supply chains face due to the drought and, where possible, support their supply chains to reduce their water use and plan for their own supplies.

Mr Lourencio Pick addressing Kannaland businesses regarding the serious drought situation and its implications.

Please visit the website of the City of Cape Town, which provides valuable information and resources that can be printed and displayed within your place of operations, http://www.capetown.gov.za. The non-profit organisation, GreenCape, can also be approached for assistance with water saving measures at no cost to businesses. Email: water@green-cape.co.za or visit: http://www.greencape.co.za/content/focusarea/business-support.

The Western Cape Government: Economic Development and Tourism can also be contacted for further information and advice.  The contact persons are Mr Lourencio Pick, email:Lourencio.Pick2@westerncape.gov.za or Ms Helen Davies, email: Helen.Davies@westerncape.gov.za

The current drought can only be broken with three to four years of good rains and its impact will affect us all, for years to come. Businesses need to diversify technologies, methodologies and behaviour in order to adapt to a new “normal”.  We need to take hands in preparing for the coming water security impacts within our district.  All economic sectors need to take the responsibility of ensuring risk mitigation and water sustainability within their businesses.

Eden DM receives recognition for its contribution to the Wetlands South Africa project

At the National Wetlands Indaba 2017, the Eden District Municipality (Eden DM) was awarded a Certificate of Participation for its outstanding contributions towards the successful implementation of the ICLEI Local Action for Biodiversity (LAB): Wetlands South Africa project. The Eden DM was one of a few other district municipalities which contributed towards the LAB: Wetlands South Africa project which won the prestigious Wetlands Crane award during the National Wetlands Awards ceremony held at this year’s Wetlands Indaba in Port Edward, Kwazulu-Natal.

The prestigious Crane awards are annually sponsored by Mondi and consist of unique bronze Wattled Crane sculptures designed by sculptor Sarah Richards. It is awarded annually to recognise outstanding contributions to wetland work in South Africa. ICLEI’s LAB: Wetlands South Africa project contributed significantly to the long-term conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and also served as an inspirational and practical example for others. The project has been enhancing the awareness of wetlands as well as the integration of biodiversity considerations into local government planning and decision-making. It has built the capacity of district municipalities to prioritise and effectively manage wetlands and biodiversity.

The Eden DM has fully supported and benefitted from this project. Its participation within the project highlighted the challenges experienced with wetland management within the district which resulted in the development of two essential documents, the Eden District Wetlands Report as well as the Eden District Wetlands Strategy and Implementation Plan. These documents were co-developed by both ICLEI as well as the Eden District Municipality as part of the LAB project. The Wetlands Strategy and Implementation Plan provide for key implementation strategies within the district as well as its incorporation within the Eden DM Spatial Development Framework and Integrated Development Plans. This will facilitate dynamic and focused wetland management and protection initiatives within the district.

Eden DM recognizes that wetlands are of immense value as it contributes to service provision and disaster risk reduction through ecosystem services such as flood attenuation, water filtration and water security, which are increasingly important in a changing climate. The municipality seeks to enhance the conservation and management of the districts’ natural wetland resources through the integration of biodiversity considerations into local government planning and decision- making.