The Department of Environment and Nature Conservation (DENC) held its Provincial Coastal Committee (PCC) meeting in Alexander Bay, a mining town located at the mouth of the Orange River on 16 September. The meeting was well attended by 33 delegates of government departments, mining companies, municipalities, conservation and law enforcement agencies.
Meeting delegates braved the chilly Benguela wind and were taken on a site visit to the mouth of South Africa’s largest river on the arid Atlantic coast, at the country’s border with Namibia. Lesser flamingos, pelicans and Cape cormorants were spotted. It was a first for many to visit the Orange River Mouth, including DENC Head of Department Liz Botes, who later said at the meeting that the visit had brought home to her how “each of us has a responsibility towards the environment.” Botes emphasised: “In light of Heritage month, we need to conserve these special areas now and for future generations.”
Policy, legislative, coastal development, tourism and social responsibility matters were addressed and discussed at the meeting. Andy Taylor of De Beers gave an update on Namaqualand Mines, and Mike Mapanza of Alexkor. De Beers and Alexkor have established social labour plans, as a means of upgrading the mining towns to municipal status.
Further developments highlighted at the meeting were that the Namakwa District Municipality has created a disaster management plan, that Kleinzee and Koingnaas have been legally proclaimed, that Kamiesberg Municipality has developed a draft coastal pollution strategy, and DENC intends to host a workshop on how to implement the Integrated Coastal Management Act. For the upcoming national marine week there are various activities lined up to raise awareness in the various Northern Cape coastal towns.
Attendance to the PCC was a first for SKEP. “All the reports confirm the need for all of us to be seated around this table,” Botes mentioned. With all the great feedback received, said SKEP learning network and communications officer Shahieda Davids, “the PCC is certainly riding the high waves when it comes to coastal conservation!”
The next PCC will take place on 9 December 2010 in Springbok.