Coastal Management Act effective today

Tuesday, December 1, 2009
By: 
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - The Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Act, dedicated to managing coastlines in an integrated manner and ensuring the sustainable use of the coast's natural resources, will come into effect today.

The ICM Act, the first legal instrument of its kind in South Africa, offers a new approach to managing the activities of people in the coastal zone.

It seeks to preserve, protect, extend and enhance the status of coastal public property as being held in trust by government on behalf of all South Africans, including future generations; secure equitable access to the opportunities and benefits of coastal public property; and give effect to South Africa's obligations in terms of international law regarding coastal management and the marine environment.

Previously, the value of South Africa's coastline and its ecosystems was not sufficiently acknowledged in decision-making in South Africa.

The direct benefits obtained from coastal "goods and services" was estimated in 1998 to be about R168 billion annually, which was equivalent to about 35 percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs, much of the wealth locked up in the coast continues to be wasted due to environmentally insensitive development and poor decision-making.

The Act is based on a national vision for the coast, which includes the socially justified sharing of benefits derived from a resource-rich coastal area without compromising the ability of future generations to access those benefits.

The Act will be implemented in a phased approach and the following sections of the Act are scheduled to enter into force at a later stage. These are sections 11, 65, 66, 95, 96 and section 98.

The reason for not bringing these sections of the ICM Act into force at this stage is to allow for further consultation between the department, the Department of Public Enterprises and Transnet, primarily related to technical aspects of how best to deal with leases and concessions within proclaimed port areas.