Status stands still

2017-03-28 06:03

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Upgrades will be needed to propel Seaforth beach in Simon’s Town to blue flag status, following a successful pilot season.

“For a beach to apply for full status, the management needs to submit a minimum of 20 water samples within the identified blue flag season,” says Wessa national coastal coordinator Rob Slater.

Wessa is the national operator under the international blue flag accreditation.

These samples can be made over four years, with no less than five a season.

“The beach needs to also show potential in terms of the availability of ablution facilities, educational signage, environmental management and safety and security,” Slater adds.

Although pilot status has been awarded to Seaforth beach, which is alongside the Boulders beach penguin colony, this is not well-known since the status is not as renowned as full blue flag status, explains City of Cape Town spokesperson Priya Reddy.

“Nevertheless, the City has slowly been working on bringing it up to full status standards, perhaps undetected by visitors to the site in order to avoid creating expectations.”

For Seaforth beach, blue flag status will underline the importance of effectively managing a site where the public and an endangered species coexist, Reddy adds.

Based on a recent inspection, the City will need to ensure that their water quality results are up to date and submitted to Wessa. The City will also need to ensure the facilities – including ablutions, paths, signs, and bins – are well maintained and that there are proper signs, a management plan and demarcation of the penguin population on the beach, Slater adds.

Seaforth beach has good water quality and is eligible for full blue flag status, says ­Reddy.

“However, it is recognised that further maintenance of existing facilities is required to meet all the blue flag criteria. Specific maintenance requirements include upgrading ablution facilities, improving access paths, updating signage and implementing dune management interventions. Improved penguin management at Seaforth beach is also required to enhance the visitor experience while eliminating any impact on this endangered species.”

The costs of the upgrades are “dependent on the level of intervention required”, says Reddy.

“At this stage, funding has not been secured and it is therefore difficult to determine which interventions will be ­implemented.”

The blue flag label is voluntary, explains Slater.

“It is at the discretion of the municipality to apply for full status if they feel that they are ready to do so. The applications are due on 28 April. The application will then go through an entire process, both national and international, to decide whether the site should be awarded blue flag status.”

But when the City will apply for full status is unclear.

Reddy says: “In the 2016/17 season, the City was awarded full blue flag status for the 10 beaches it had applied for. As holding the status has an impact on resource availability and allocation, adding a further beach to the programme will be decided following consultation between various departments who play a role in maintaining the status.”

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