Kwazulu-Natal Boat Launch Site Monitoring System
Access to coastal and marine resources of KZN is traditionally facilitated by the use of off-road vehicles and small vessels, both of which can have a negative impact on the environment. In 2002, regulations were promulgated under the National Environmental Management Act (No. 107 of 1998) to limit the use of off-road vehicles in the coastal zone. Simultaneously, the launching of ski boats from designated sites was also placed under stricter control with the obligatory licensing of small craft launch sites. Historically, management of launch sites in the province was based on safety and logistic considerations with little or no consideration for environmental factors. The new regulations placed greater emphasis on the environment, a task delegated to the Coastal and Biodiversity Management Unit (CBMU) of the provincial Department of Agriculture & Environmental Affairs (DAE) in 2003. Through extensive stakeholder participation, this licensing initiative introduced a mandatory launch and catch register system as a condition of the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for each successfully licensed small craft launch site. A stakeholder committee (ie Boat Launch Site Advisory Group – BLSAG) and a technical committee (ie Boat Launch Site Technical Committee – BLSTC) provide guidance on matters relating to licensing and management of boat launch sites. This project entails the collection, processing and interpretation of daily launch statistics from each of the registered launch sites along the KZN coast. The modus operandi involves a clear division of function between the three agencies, which act in collaboration with each other. Boat skippers are required to complete a launch register before and on return from each outing to sea. Launch records from each launch site are collected on a monthly basis by EKZNW staff and brought through to ORI for data capture and analysis. This development represents an opportunity for the province’s coastal zone managers to obtain useful information on the usage patterns of launch sites and to further the ecological understanding of the use of offshore marine resources accessed through boat launching. The diverse activities of small craft in the coastal zone of KZN represent an important socio-economic and natural resource asset that requires monitoring, assessment and protection.