WHILE fishermen and residents have raised concerns about the recent sewage spill at the Port Shepstone beach front, it seems there may be a bigger issue at play.A local fisherman noted with concern that a sewage pipeline near The Block was seen depositing sewage directly into the ocean. Mervin Moonsamy said he was made aware of the issue after the recent sewage spill in the area. “I can understand a spill every now and then, and even then that is too much, however the pipeline goes directly into the ocean, which means Ugu is deliberately depositing sewage into the ocean on a regular basis. “Imagine the marine pollution that has been going on over the years,” said Moonsamy. Tella Fourie, who said she moved from Mpumalanga months ago, said she had been looking forward to fishing on the coast however, she claims there had been very little to no fish here which she attributes to the alleged pollution. “We come here every morning from 4 am in the morning and we get nothing.” One professional fisherman said he was battling to survive as fishing was his livelihood. Some residents also complained about excessive itching after being in contact with the water from The Block as well as at the Umtentweni river mouth.A high ranking official at the Umbango River Conservancy, who asked not to be named, said the conservancy was contemplating suing Ugu for the ordeal. “We are tired of Ugu and their countless excuses. A more permanent solution is needed. “Do they not realise the seriousness of this issue — people are getting sick, fishermen are starving, what more needs to happen for them to realise the seriousness of this,” he asked. According to water and marine life experts,human sewage pollution in coastal areas has detrimental effects on marine life. Earth Science author and researcher Cindy Clendenon said, because coasts are densely populated, the amount of sewage reaching seas and oceans is of particular concern because some substances it contains can harm ecosystems and pose a significant public health threat. “In addition to the nutrients which can cause over enrichment of receiving water-bodies, sewage carries an array of potentially disease-causing microbes known as pathogens,” said Clendenon. A list of detailed questions was sent relating to the alleged sewage spills was sent to the Ugu District Municipality for comment, however not all of it was answered. Spokesperson France Zama. said the pipeline was used for emergencies only. “The pipeline in question is a backup line utilised only in the case of emergencies — when the pump station experiences a technical failure thus leading to a major overflow. “Our Environmental Health Services has conducted a physical check at the said area and can confirm that there is currently no signs of spillages,” he said.