City might step in to save harbours

2015-08-25 06:02
Council will begin drafting bylaws to take over management of small harbours.

nicole mccain

Council will begin drafting bylaws to take over management of small harbours. PHOTO: nicole mccain

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In six months, council could be stepping in to manage Kalk Bay and Hout Bay harbours.

This as Premier Helen Zille announced last week the provincial government’s plan to initiate an intergovernmental dispute with national government over the management of 12 small harbours in the province.

The harbours are currently managed by the national department of forestry and fisheries, although under the constitution small harbours should fall to municipalities to be managed and maintained, Zille explains. “This means that, in the case of Kalk Bay harbour, the City of Cape Town should be managing this facility and not national government. The same goes for the other 12 harbours and their respective municipalities. For the fishing harbours to be upgraded and professionally run, we maintain that the management thereof should be transferred to local government,” she says.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had not commented at the time of going to print.

BylawsWhile the dispute is being actioned, bylaws will be drafted to empower municipalities to manage these harbours, Zille says.

Mayor Patricia de Lille says the Specialized Policy Unit and the City administration will start the process of drafting the by-law imminently. “The process will include public participation and will need council approval. Therefore it will take between three and six months,” she says.

“Constitutional provisions entitle local government to certain functions which include management, harbour security, trading regulations, cleansing and access control amongst other functions.”

Zille says harbours play a critical role in creating jobs and attracting investment, as the Western Cape accounts for 71% of the employment in the fishing industry. “Harbours also play a critical role in creating jobs through tourism. A study prepared for the Western Cape Government shows that the most unique potential role of harbours within the tourism value chain is in terms of marine access.”

Desperate need These include charters and specialist boat trips, sailing, power boating and personal water craft related activities.

“Thousands of Western Cape families, through fisherman and women, rely on this sector for their livelihoods. When the harbours are in working order, people have jobs. When the harbours are neglected by national government, people lose their jobs and resort to illegal means to make a living,” she says.

Zille adds that the provincial government has ­attempted to resolve the management problem since taking office in 2009, through a series of meetings and engagements. As these have not led to a solution, the provincial government felt obliged to initiate the intergovernmental dispute.

This follows a recent announcement by the president, Jacob Zuma, of the establishment of a small harbours development authority and the rehabilitation and upgrade of small harbours at Gansbaai, Saldanha Bay, Struisbaai, Gordon’s Bay and Lambert’s Bay.

“While the identified harbours do indeed require upgrading and rehabilitation, all 12 are in fact in desperate need of such action. Constitutionally, this action must be taken by ­local government, with adequate funds apportioned for these purposes by the national treasury,” she says.

More opportunities The new management will bring a boost to local communities, Zille believes. “The commitment we are making to the fishing community is one of well-managed, world-class facilities that create more opportunities, jobs and better livelihoods than is currently possible,” she says.

However, some believe the move will be too little, too late.

Former Kalk Bay harbour master Pat Stacey believes the only way to save the harbour is to privatise it. “Government doesn’t have the expertise in managing harbours. I don’t see a future for harbours unless they are privatised and run like a business. The resource won’t be able to sustain the harbour for much longer and we need to boost the tourism side,” he says.

Fisherman Peter Isaacs says the plan will only work if fishermen are equipped with new skills. “In Hout Bay, the fishing has died out and most of the art stalls are owned by foreigners. Even in Kalk Bay, tourists don’t buy fish, the locals do,” he says.

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