BAY OF NATAL ESTUARINE MANAGEMENT PLAN

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BAY OF NATAL
ESTUARINE MANAGEMENT PLAN

SITUATION ASSESSMENT

MAY 2011
DRAFT FOR PUBLIC COMMENT


Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment
i


For and on behalf of:




Environmental Resources Management Marine & Estuarine Research

Approved by:

Signed: David Shandler Signed: Nicolette Forbes





Position: Partner Position: Managing Member
Reg No: 2003/001404/07
Reg No: 99/14501/23


Date: MAY 2011

This report has been jointly prepared by Environmental Resources
Management (the trading name of Environmental Resources
Management Limited) and Marine & Estuarine Research, with all
reasonable skill, care and diligence within the terms of the Contract
with the client, incorporating our General Terms and Conditions of
Business and taking account of the resources devoted to it by
agreement with the client.

We disclaim any responsibility to the client and others in respect of any
matters outside the scope of the above.















This report should be cited as:
MER/ERM. 2011. Development of the Bay of Natal Estuarine Management Plan: Situation Assessment.
Report prepared for eThekwini Municipality, Transnet National Port Authority and the Department of
Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development.



All conceptual diagrams and photographic credits: N.T. Forbes


Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment
ii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Project Team

ERM
D
. Shandler


Partner in Charge

L. Van Dongen – Project Manager and Stakeholder Engagement
H. Young and M. Coetzee – Legal Compliance and Governance
S. Heather-Clark – Integration and Specialist Input
K. Moonsamy, B. Ridley, L. van Dongen and A. Hickman – Socio-Economic
M. Longhurst – Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Mapping

MER
N.T. Forbes - Project Manager and Estuarine Management
Prof A.T. Forbes - Estuarine Ecology
S. Mallory - Hydrology

INDEPENDENT TECHNICAL REVIEW
C Cullinan - Legal Compliance and Governance



Project Steering Committee

The project Steering Committee was comprised of individuals from the three sponsoring organisations
namely:

• Transnet National Ports Authority represented by M. Haffajee, J. Madingani, K. Zondi & N.
Kwinana
• DAEA&RD represented by A. Matsheke & O. Parak
• eThekwini Municipality represented by A. Mather and C. McLean




Documents forming part of this Project

 Development of an Estuarine Management Plan for the Bay of Natal: Situation Assessment (This
document)

Estuarine Management Plan for Bay of Natal: Estuarine Management Plan

Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment Executive Summary
iii

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Introduction

The Integrated Coastal Management Act requires the development of estuarine management
plans for South African estuaries. An Estuarine Management Plan for the Bay of Natal
(hereafter referred to as the Bay or Durban Bay) is being developed at the request of Transnet
National Ports Authority (TNPA), Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural
Development (DAEA&RD) and eThekwini Municipality (EM) who together provided a Terms of
Reference (ToR) for this work.

This document serves as the executive summary for the Situation Assessment Report. The
structure of this summary mirrors that of the report.

The Estuary that is Durban Bay

An estuary is the place where rivers and the sea combine. The upstream catchment supplies
an estuary with fresh water which mixes with salt water entering from the sea. This mixing of
fresh and seawater results in distinct physical and chemical conditions and processes, typically
very different from those found in the contributing rivers and marine environments. These
conditions are frequently highly dynamic and it is these fluctuations and differences that
contribute to the diversity and productivity inherent in these important ecosystems (see
figure inset below for key elements of a typical South African estuary).

Durban Bay is classified as an estuarine bay. Estuarine bays are large tidal systems where
there is freshwater input but also a strong marine influence. They represent the rarest
estuarine type in South Africa where only Knysna, Richards Bay and Durban Bay fall into this
category.

Significantly, this Bay is also known as the Port of Durban, the leading container port in the
southern hemisphere, and it therefore functions as one of national economy’s key assets
(Forbes and Demetriades 2006). Moreover, it is an important resource for the citizens of
Durban to access for recreational, subsistence and other social reasons.


Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment Executive Summary
iv

















Key features of South African estuaries (Forbes 2010)

As described in this report, the Bay’s estuarine ecosystem has been compromised to the point
that it has lost resilience for various reasons related to both the Port uses of the Bay and the
social and economic activities undertaken within the catchments which drain into the Bay.
Yet, while the environment has become significantly degraded, it nevertheless remains an
estuary of local, regional and even national significance.

The Value of Estuaries

Estuaries are highly productive ecosystems that play an important role in the supply of
organisms, sediments and nutrients to the coastal environment. The physical and chemical
processes inherent in estuaries generate a food rich habitat that is able to serve as vital
nursery areas for a number of marine fish and invertebrates and that are important feeding
and roosting areas for a number of bird species, both resident and migratory.

In addition, estuaries fulfil important social and economic functions. For example, areas of
salt marsh or mangrove habitat protect adjacent land and human settlement from storm
surges caused by high intensity coastal storms. Salt marshes and other littoral vegetation also
intercept contaminants in runoff and thus can buffer the effects of urbanisation. Estuarine
bays also serve as places of refuge and have consequently been used as both small scale
harbours and large scale ports. They provide an economic basis for coastal tourism and viable
seafood industries. Such social and environmental benefits provided by the Bay are known as
Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment Executive Summary
v

‘ecological goods and services’.

The Management Challenge

These ecological, social and environmental benefits have long been recognised, with
settlements at river mouths and along estuaries going back for millennia. However, human
activities and developments have also resulted in degradation of these habitats. Diminished
and degraded habitats are less available to support healthy populations of estuarine
organisms and this renders them less able to provide the environmental, social and economic
goods and services on which coastal populations depend for their livelihoods and protection.

Yet, while the directly proportional relationship between healthy estuarine functioning and
social and economic goods and services would seem to suggest that it is in the interest of
people to protect estuarine functioning, population growth and social and economic demands
continue to place increasing pressure on already fragile estuarine ecosystems. Where these
pressures result in declines in the state of the ecosystem, they also result in declines in the
goods and services that can be provided. This in turn results in negative impacts on human
well-being in coastal systems. It is a lose-lose situation.

In the context of anticipated increasing social and economic demands on the estuary that is
Durban Bay, the best way to both avoid the negative cycle described above and to ensure that
the estuary is able to continue providing its valuable goods and services, is to carefully
manage the impact of human activities on the functioning of the estuary.

The seemingly competing demands of enhancing the social and economic benefit of the Bay
and of preserving and restoring estuarine function, in fact together create a compelling case
for the need for better management, where the objective of such management would be to
improve the resilience of the ecosystem. Better management will open opportunities for the
Bay to be more effective in providing the social and economic goods and services.

It is in this context that the relevant authorities initiated the task of compiling an Estuarine
Management Plan for the Bay. It should be noted that additional drivers for the plan include
the ICMA’s legislative requirement that a management plan be compiled for each estuary in
South Africa and the fish kill event that occurred in the summer of 2007/2008 which left the
central sandbank littered with dead fish.


Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment Executive Summary
vi

What is an Estuarine Management Plan (EstMP)?

Further to the real need for improved management are the legal requirements which compel
authorities to develop EstMPs for every South African estuary, as per the National
Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act (No 24 of 2008) and the
Generic Estuarine Management Framework.

The purpose of EstMPs is to manage human influences or activities which impact on the
natural functioning of the estuary, in this case the Bay. In doing so, they are guided by the
objective of seeking the sustainable use of estuarine resources.

The EstMP is developed in two phases:

• The formulation of a Situation Assessment Report which provides background
information and details the current status of the estuary (this document).
• The Estuarine Management Plan which, using the background provided by the
Situation Assessment, details the protocols and strategies to manage activities
impacting on the estuary (to be developed in the next phase of work).

Importantly, the focus of the plan must be on management measures associated with the
current physical configuration of the estuary/port and existing associated activities. Any new
proposed layouts would need to be decided upon through a separate exercise and are not the
subject of this Estuarine Management Plan.

The Situation Assessment

This document serves as the first stage of the estuarine management planning process, in that
prior to identifying management actions it is important to understand the current situation.
This document is the Situation Assessment Report (SAR) for the Bay.

The report provides an overview of:

• The geographic, social and economic context within which the Bay falls;
• The ecological characteristics of the Bay
• The goods and services provided by the Bay and the threats to these services
• The governance context influencing activity in and management of the Bay; and
• The opportunities and constraints associated with future management of the Bay.

The report is based on the experience of the project team, using their own and other existing
Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment Executive Summary
vii

information, as well as on consultations with key stakeholders. The literature and information
base for significant aspects of the Bay and its catchment is relatively good and has enabled
this situation assessment to be developed without the need for much additional research.

Geographic Context

Durban Bay is situated on the east coast of South Africa and has formed the focal point for
development of the city of Durban. The region has a sub-tropical climate with temperatures
ranging between an average minimum of 16°C and average maximum of 27°C. The catchment
area is generally wet receiving an average annual rainfall of 1 010 mm mostly in summer
between November and March.

The uMbilo, uMhlatuzana and aManzimnyama rivers supply freshwater to the estuary and all
receive runoff from both residential and industrial areas. The combined catchments of all
three rivers have an area of about 250 km
2
and fall entirely within the eThekwini Municipal
boundary. All three streams are canalised in their lower reaches. Several stormwater drains
originating in the Durban CBD discharge into the Bay at various localities situated around
Bayhead, Maydon Wharf, Victoria Embankment and the Point.
Given the size of the catchments, this planning process has set boundaries on the areas that
will receive the focus during the planning phase of the project, namely:

• A primary boundary defined by the limit of tidal influence and the estuary mouth;
• A secondary boundary defined as areas within a 6 km radius from the centre of the Bay;
and
• Several nodal areas including industrial nodes through which the rivers run and four
Waste Water Treatment Works which discharge to the catchments.

Social Context

An analysis of the social context within which the Bay falls illustrates that both the catchments
and the secondary boundary are highly populated, urbanised and transformed environments
with principally residential and industrial land uses and several key open space systems and
recreational facilities (including the Moses Mabhida Stadium to the north, the Bluff Nature
Reserve and National Golf Clubs to the south and the University of KwaZulu Natal and
surrounding open space system to the west). The 2007 Census showed that more than 95% of
the catchment and secondary boundary is serviced by piped water and solid waste removal,
although only 76% of these households had flush toilets. This context is important because
Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment Executive Summary
viii

the demographic characteristics of the area and in particular the land uses of the area have an
important influence on the estuary through the rivers and storm water systems which drain
into the Bay. Significantly, the population and development trends suggest that there will be
greater urbanisation and population growth which will therefore exacerbate the social
pressures placed on the Bay. The social analysis has also shown that
social activities and
users
are both dependent on the Bay and its ecosystems goods and services, while also serving as
an important influence on estuarine functioning.

The following social users and activities are supported by the Bay:

• Neighbouring communities who benefit from views, enhanced property values and
landscape benefits;
• Recreational and subsistence fishermen who fish from the Bay and collect bait;
• Recreational users including members of the yachting, canoeing and rowing clubs;
• Educational users including school children, conservation groups and researchers who
visit the Bay and the Natural Heritage Site in particular; and
• Tourists and visitors who make use of the restaurants, museums, shops and cruise/ferry
facilities.

These social users will benefit directly from the improved functioning of the Bay. Certain of
their activities, do, however, negatively impact estuarine functioning.

Economic Context

The development of the city of Durban has long been centred on the establishment and
expansion of the economically highly important harbour. The Port of Durban handles the
largest volume of sea-going traffic of any port in southern Africa. On average, the Port
handles 31.4 million tons of cargo, valued at R50 billion each year. During the 2008/2009
financial year, the Port of Durban handled a total of 4,554 sea-going ships with a gross
tonnage of about 115 million or about 38% of the ships calling at all South African ports.

In addition to the direct benefit to the economy of the functioning Port, the Bay also supports
several other port related or ancillary industries and sectors, including:

• The shipping and cargo handling industries and associated storage businesses;
• The transportation industries associated with the import and export of goods through the
Port and into the city, the regional, the country and the Southern African region; and
• The ship chandelling, ship building and repairs industry.
Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment Executive Summary
ix


In addition, there are a large number of tenants who run a range of associated or non-
associated businesses that benefit from their proximity to the Bay. Furthermore, there are
economic users such as tourism and hospitality users, e.g. museums, shopping, restaurateurs,
hoteliers and passenger liners, whose services are either dependent on, or are assisted by,
their proximity to the Bay. These activities all create value for the economy as well as
employment for the people of Durban. Yet, while the Bay supports these economic activities,
it is itself also impacted by such activities and associated developments. For example, there
have been important changes to the estuary related to Port development which resulted in
habitat losses. Activities in and around the Bay can also impact on the water quality of the
Bay, as illustrated in the figure below. Importantly, as with social trends, trends suggest that
economic users of the Bay will be putting more pressure on the estuary in future. As economic
pressures are anticipated to increase, so will the negative impact of these activities on
estuarine functioning unless activities are carefully managed.






















Processes and activities impacting on water quality in estuaries (Forbes 2010)
Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment Executive Summary
x


Ecological Status of the Estuary

Durban Bay, while remaining highly significant from an ecological perspective, is a degraded
ecosystem. Not only are the various communities within the ecosystem in decline, but the
resilience of the ecosystem itself has been compromised.

Human activities within the estuarine boundaries and in the catchments have had a massive
effect on physical, abiotic and biotic elements of the system:


Physical: The historical extent of the estuarine area has been significantly reduced from
an estimated original 35 km
2
to a landlocked area of 13.5 km
2
with a shoreline of
approximately 27 km. The historically shallow mouth has been dredged and stabilised by
breakwaters to allow shipping movements and the width is presently being increased
from 250 m to 350 m. Maximum dredged depth in the harbour is around 20 m with the
average channel depth being about 12.5 m. Sediment distribution in the Bay has been
modified such that the deeper channels, particularly in the upper reaches have become
settlement points for any sediment brought in from the catchments.


• Abiotic: Habitat loss through harbour development frequently exceeds 90% and in the
case of the seagrass beds the loss has been total. Analyses of the water chemistry going
back 30 years indicate disturbing levels of pollution, particularly in the upper regions of
the Bay. The pollution effects are manifested in terms of reduced dissolved oxygen levels
in the water, resulting in periodic major fish kills such as occurred in the summer of 2007-
2008, as well as bacterial levels well beyond those considered to be hazardous to human
health. Algal blooms, which are the proliferation of single celled microscopic plants in the
water column to the point where the water may become visibly discoloured, are
increasingly frequent and reflect the increasing levels of nutrients (nitrates and
phosphates) from the catchment. These events in turn result in highly variable dissolved
oxygen levels in the water and contribute to fish kills. Conversely, biological filtration
processes on the sandbanks have the capacity to reduce these effects and enhance the
quality of the water moving out of the Bay over tidal cycles. This has been compromised
by a reduction in the size and number of sandbanks in the Bay due to Port development
requirements.

• Biotic: The macro-vegetation in the Bay has either been lost completely, as shown by the
disappearance of the seagrass beds in the 1960s and the long since loss of any fringing
saltmarsh vegetation. The surviving mangroves are now protected in the Natural
Heritage Site. These 12 hectares represent less than 5% of the original mangrove area.
Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment Executive Summary
xi

The invertebrate fauna has never been systematically surveyed since the original survey
in the early 1950s when concern was expressed regarding the loss of natural habitats.
This was at a time when the southern mangrove habitat was largely intact. Total
disappearance or loss of massive proportions of the original habitats would have reduced
the carrying capacity of the Bay and the loss of some species can be considered to have
been inevitable. The disappearance of the push net prawn fishery is indicative of the
disappearance of the ginger prawn Marsupenaeus japonicus, while observations in the
mangrove remnant suggest that the large mangrove whelk Pyrazus palustris has also been
lost. The fish fauna in the Bay would also have been reduced by habitat loss although it
can be argued that the sheltered, relatively deep and totally marine areas near the mouth
would now support a marine reef fauna which would not have been a feature of the
pristine environment. On the other hand the marine migrant fauna, dependent on
estuaries as juveniles, would be more dependent on the highly reduced and still
threatened sand and mud banks and the now vanished seagrass habitats.

The birds provide the best documented record of faunal changes in the Bay as they have
been counted and recorded systematically over the last 40 years. Counts over the period
1965-1999 showed that the abundance of water birds decreased by at least 70% during
this period. There were no equivalent records of such declines in other South African
areas used by these species indicating that the decline was very much a Durban feature.
Five water bird species no longer occur, namely, yellow-billed stork Mycteria ibis, glossy
ibis Plegadis falcinellus, black egret Egretta ardesiaca, greater flamingo Phoenicopterus
ruber and wood sandpiper Tringa glaerola. Ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula, grey
plover Pluvialis squatarola, curlew sandpiper Calidris ferruginea, little stint Calidris
minuta, ruff Philomachus pugnax and mangrove kingfisher Halcyon senegaloides have all
suffered major reductions. A further 12 species have undergone minor reductions.


Provisional Health Assessment of the Estuary

To support and assist in the development of this EstMP for Durban Bay a Provisional Health
Assessment was carried out by the ecological specialists on the team with input from other
estuarine scientists. This was done using the most recent methods developed for determining
the Ecological Water Requirements of an estuary to support the Estuarine Resource Directed
Measures for the protection of water resources (DWAF 2008). This was done to address the
gap which exists given that a formal preliminary estuarine ecological reserve has not as yet
been carried out on this estuary. This provides a significant base layer of information to help
prioritise the interventions and management actions which could maintain or improve the
health of the estuary. The summarised results of this assessment are included in the table
below.
Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment Executive Summary
xii

Provisional Present Ecological Health Status for Durban Bay
Estuarine Process or Biotic component
Weight
Score
Weighted
Score
Hydrology

25

60

15

Hydrodynamics and mouth condition

25

90

23

Water quality

25

20

5

Physical habitat alteration 25 20
5
Habitat health score
48
Final Microalgae

20

20

4

Macrophytes 20 5
1
Final Invertebrates 20 20
4
Fish

20

10

2

Birds 20 10
2
Biotic health score

13

ESTUARINE HEALTH SCORE
(average of
habitat & biotic scores)

30

PROVISIONAL PRESENT ECOLOGICAL CATEGORY

E


The results of the health assessment indicate that Durban Bay is in a parlous state with an
overall health score of 30 putting the system in a Provisional Ecological Status category E. It
is important to note that while the habitat health score is low (48), the biotic health is
extremely low (13). This indicates that factors other than the physical habitat configuration
are pushing the Bay towards a tipping point. The major drivers for change in the system were
unsurprisingly assessed to be predominantly caused by people. These comprised both
irreversible (core port and city infrastructure) and reversible changes (water quality and
habitat related). Given these constraints it was felt that the Best Attainable State for this
estuary is a Largely Modified System i.e. Category D. Durban Bay has been rated as HIGHLY
IMPORTANT at all scales from local to national. Therefore given the significance of Durban
Bay as an estuary it should be a priority to improve its current condition.

Ecosystem Goods and Services

The estuary provides important goods and services to the people of Durban. An assessment of
these goods and services clearly establishes that it is important not only from an ecological
perspective but also from a social and economic perspective that estuarine functioning be
preserved and improved.

The development of a harbour in Durban was ultimately possible because of the existence of
the Bay. Beyond this, a functioning estuarine ecosystem within the Bay has the capacity,
amongst other things to provide aesthetic values, environmental education, recreational
opportunities such as fishing or sailing, raw materials, significant breakdown, assimilation and
degradation of waste products, act as a filter for nutrient and bacterial contaminants in runoff
from the catchment and act as a nursery ground for marine fish and invertebrates such as
prawns which migrate between the estuary and the sea. It also acts as an important shock
Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment Executive Summary
xiii

absorber for urban runoff during high rainfall events attenuating flooding in the CBD. The Bay
is also considered an integral and important part of the City’s adaptation plan for climate
change.

Threats to Ecological Functioning and Ecosystems Goods and Services

The health assessment of the Bay clearly shows that there are activities that impact negatively
on estuarine functioning. In order to improve estuarine functioning, it is important to manage
threats and potential threats.

Human activities and developments posing a potential threat to estuaries and the valuable
services provided by these systems can be divided into the following broad categories:

• ...... Infrastructure development which has resulted in a net loss of a significant portion of
the habitats in the Bay, including roads infrastructure, riparian infrastructure, infilling
and in-stream infrastructure, canalisation, dredging;
• ...... Land use which results in pollution of the rivers and the storm water systems which
drain into the Bay, including industry, human settlements and agriculture in the
catchments, as well as activities undertaken in the Bay itself, including shipping and
recreational activities in the Bay itself;
• ...... Water quantity increases related to alien vegetation along the banks of the three rivers
draining into the Bay and hardened services in the catchments;
• ...... Activities negatively impacting water quality, including run-off, spills, waste water and
solid waste disposal; and
• ...... The exploitation of living resources, such as bait collection, fish harvesting and mining.

Governance

Throughout the report, there is a clearly identified need to improve management of those
activities that impact negatively on estuarine functioning. An overview of the governance
context highlights, however, that this will need to happen within an extraordinarily complex
legal framework and institutional arrangement.

While there is no legislation which deal with estuaries in particular the fact that estuaries
contain freshwater, terrestrial and marine components, and are heavily influenced by
activities in the much broader catchment and adjacent marine area, means that they are
affected by a large number of policies and laws. The governance of Durban Bay is also peculiar
given that Transnet has been given a vast suite of management rights which enables the
Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment Executive Summary
xiv

operation of a harbour within its confines. The legal and institutional structures governing
Durban Bay therefore provide unique challenges from a development, public use and
conservation perspective. While there is a lot of legislation that could be applied to support
role-players in navigating these challenges, this legislation is often not able to provide such
support given that there is a perception that it is conflicting. The seeming conflict is most
often characterised as a dilemma where on the one hand the law seeks to protect the natural
environment, while on the other it lends itself to the facilitation of development. The legal
review undertaken in this report argues that there is no such conflict in that all the relevant
legislation seems to be underpinned by a common principle that development should be
sustainable and achieved in a way that does not compromise the environment. Furthermore,
the respective laws seem able to adequately provide for both protection and development.
There is a challenge, however, in ensuring the necessary commitment to applying the full
range of legislation. This challenge relates to the confusion that exists around which
legislation might be applied in the circumstance as particular legislation exempts Transnet, a
major role-player, from several provisions within various sections of the relevant legislation.

Ensuring that the relevant legislation in place works to the advantage of estuarine
management will depend on the effectiveness of the institutions through which the provisions
are channelled, as well as their financial resources. While in the past there has not always
been co-operation between the various role-players involved in the management of the Bay,
there are signs of improvement in this regard. Improved communication and co-ordination
between authorities has largely taken place through a number of forums, including the
Durban Bay Authorities Forum, the eThekwini Coastal Working Group and the Provincial
Coastal Committee. The latter two are fora that have been provided for through the new
Integrated Coastal Management Act. All of these fora have operated effectively in the past but
recently have met irregularly, if at all.

Some of the identified constraints which prevent effective management of the estuary as well
as the effective functioning of the institutions who are responsible for this management relate
to the peculiar ownership and rights arrangements that pertain to the estuary. For example,
there is confusion between the various authorities on their respective roles and
responsibilities in managing the estuary. This confusion underpins several other institutional
constraints identified including a lack of trust, budgetary constraints and other resourcing
challenges.

Opportunities and Constraints

The objective of an EstMP is to maintain an estuary in as functional a condition as possible.
Where there is some degradation or potentially degrading influence, this needs to be
removed if possible or managed within acceptable limits. With this in mind, this Situation
Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment Executive Summary
xv

Assessment Report suggests several opportunities for improving functioning of the estuary as
well as improving management and governance of activities within and around the Bay.
Similarly, there are several constraints identified.

Several analysts have suggested that the Bay is at a tipping point and could be thrown off
balance by a relatively minor ‘push’ in which, significantly, the loss to the ecosystem’s
functioning would be disproportionate to the negative impact, e.g. should the Bay experience
a major injection of poor quality water or loss in area related to the development or
intervention. Furthermore, the deterioration being experienced is likely to continue even in
the absence of, further development or any major water quality incident. For the integrity of
the system to be preserved and for the estuarine functioning to be improved, there is a need
to reverse the current trajectory. The legal requirement to preserve the functioning of the
ecosystem requires that active measures be put in place to first prevent further deterioration
and subsequently to restore functioning. It has been suggested that this will require not only
addressing those negative influences that can be addressed, but also that active and positive
interventions be considered, e.g. habitat restoration and rehabilitation.

Given the importance of the estuary and the acknowledgement that there is a need for
rehabilitation and the management of impacting activities, the following management
opportunities exist that would result in improved estuarine functioning:

• Managing negative impacts, for example interventions in the Bay, the city and the
catchments which result in improved water quality;
• Exploring positive opportunities including the protection and restoration of key habitats
in the Bay and the possible rehabilitation of habitats in the Bay as well as in the
catchments.

Furthermore, future port expansion can serve as an opportunity in so far as existing port
infrastructure presents a constraint to what is possible to achieve. The opportunity only exists
in so far as future planning is done in a way that enhances estuarine functioning instead of
compromising it (e.g. through that seek to enhance circulation and create opportunities for
habitat re-creation and rehabilitation).

There is furthermore a set of opportunities for future management. Given the complex
plethora of competing legislation, it can further be argued that management of the Bay would
be unduly constrained by an overreliance on legislation. Rather, governance and
management of the Bay might best be served by looking beyond legislation. There is an
Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment Executive Summary
xvi

opportunity to establish a social contract through which decisions are made and identified
measures are enforced.

Next Steps: The Visioning and Management Planning Processes

This Situation Assessment provides a foundation and starting point for the development of
appropriate management plans. Prior to developing these plans there is also a need to define
the vision that management interventions are seeking to achieve. In this case, this vision will
be generated through engagement with a wide range of stakeholders. This vision will draw
from the situation assessment and will serve as the foundation for the management plan.

Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment
xvii

ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS

ABM Area Based Management
C.A.P.E. Cape Action Plan for People and the Environment
CBD Central Business District
CEROI Cities Environmental Report on the Internet
Chl-a Chlorophyll a
cm Centimetre
CPUE Catch Per Unit Effort
CSIR Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research
CSR Central Spatial Region
CSDP Central Spatial Development Plan
CWG Coastal Working Group
DAEA&RD Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development (provincial)
DEA Department of Environmental Affairs
DEAT Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
DEDT Department of Economic Development and Tourism
DFA Development Facilitation Act (No. 67 of 1995)
DIN Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen
DIP Dissolved Inorganic Phosphate
D’MOSS Durban Metro Open Space System
DO Dissolved Oxygen
DRS Dissolved Reactive Silicate
DSW Durban Solid Waste
DWA Department of Water Affairs
DWEA Department of Water and Environmental Affairs
EESMP eThekwini Environmental Services Management Plan
EHI Estuary Health Index
EIA Environmental Impact Assessment
EM eThekwini Municipality
ERC Ecological Reserve Category
ERM Environmental Resources Management (Pty) Ltd
EstMP Estuarine Management Plan
EWR Ecological Water Requirement
GEMF Generic Estuarine Management Framework
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GIS Geographic Information Systems
GG Government Gazette
GGP Gross Geographic Product
Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment
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GVA Gross Value Added
Ha Hectare
HWM High Water Mark
ICMA Integrated Coastal Management Act (Act 24 of 2008)
IDP Integrated Development Planning
IEP Integrated Environmental Programme
km Kilometre
KZN KwaZulu Natal
MAR Mean Annual Runoff
MER Marine and Estuarine Research
MCM Marine and Coastal Management
MLRA Marine Living Resources Act (No. 18 of 1998)
Mm
3

Million cubic metres
MSL Mean Sea Level
NEMA National Environmental Management Act (No. 107 of 1998)
NPA National Ports Act (Act 12 of 2005)
NWA National Water Act (No 36 of 1998)
O&C Oceans and Coasts (formerly MCM)
PCC Provincial Coastal Committee
PDA Planning and Development Act (Act 6 of 2008)
PES Present Ecological Status
PPP Purchasing Power Parity
PSEDS Provincial Spatial Economic Development Strategy
RDM Resource Directed Measures
REI River-Estuary-Interface
RQO Resource Quality Objectives
RSA Republic of South Africa
RWQO Receiving Water Quality Objectives
SAR Situation Assessment Report
SAEON South African Environmental Observation Network
SATS South African Transport Services
SDF Spatial Development Framework
TEMPI Transnet-eThekwini Municipality Planning Initiative
TNPA Transnet National Ports Authority
TFR Transnet Freight Rail
TPC Threshold of Potential Concern
TPT Transnet Port Terminals
UCT University of Cape Town
WWTW Waste Water Treatment Works
Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment
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TABLE OF CONTENTS


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ............................................................................................................................. iii
ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS xviii
1. INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................... 1

1.1. WHAT IS AN ESTUARY ....................................................................................................................... 1
1.2. THE ROLE, FUNCTIONING AND IMPORTANCE OF ESTUARIES .......................................................... 4
1.3. THE MANAGEMENT CHALLENGE ...................................................................................................... 4
1.4. THE MANAGEMENT CHALLENGE AT THE BAY .................................................................................. 5
1.5. ESTUARINE MANAGEMENT PLANS ................................................................................................... 8
1.6. THE SCOPE OF WORK ........................................................................................................................ 8
1.7. THE SITUATION ASSESSMENT REPORT
.................................................................................... 9
2. CONTEXTUAL ANALYSIS ...................................................................................... 11
2.1. INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................................. 11
2.2. GEOGRAPHIC CONTEXT .................................................................................................................. 12
2.3. PROPOSED BOUNDARIES FOR THE ESTUARY MANAGEMENT PLAN .............................................. 17
2.4. SOCIAL CONTEXT ............................................................................................................................ 23
2.5. ECONOMIC CONTEXT ...................................................................................................................... 44
3. ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS AND FUNCTIONING ............................................. 57

3.1. PHYSICAL OR ABIOTIC COMPONENTS ............................................................................................ 57
3.2. BIOTIC COMPONENTS ..................................................................................................................... 67
3.3. BIOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ESTUARY – THE REGIONAL AND NATIONAL CONTEXT ........... 78
3.4. ESTUARINE HEALTH STATUS ASSESSMENT ..................................................................................... 80
4. ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND THREATS TO ECOLOGICAL FUNCTIONING .................. 83

4.1. WHAT ARE ECOSYSTEM SERVICES? ............................................................................................... 83
4.2. GOODS AND SERVICES PROVIDED .................................................................................................. 84
4.3. THREATS TO ECOLOGICAL FUNCTIONING AND ECOSYSTEMS SERVICES ........................................ 87
5. GOVERNANCE ..................................................................................................... 99

5.1. LEGAL REVIEW ................................................................................................................................ 99
5.2. RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS ........................................................................................................... 129
5.3. INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS ................................................................................................. 141
5.4. INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY ............................................................................................................ 154
6. OPPORTUNITIES AND CONSTRAINTS .................................................................. 163

6.1. SUMMARY OF THE CURRENT SITUATION ..................................................................................... 163
6.2. THE DILEMMA ............................................................................................................................... 164
6.3. OPPORTUNITIES AND CONSTRAINTS ............................................................................................ 165
6.4. NEXT STEPS ................................................................................................................................... 168
7. REFERENCES ...................................................................................................... 169


APPENDIX A: Desktop Health Assessment of the Bay of Natal ....................................................... 175
APPENDIX B: Extracts of Relevant Legislation & Institutional Arrangements ................................ 181

Bay of Natal: EstMP Situation Assessment



THE BAY OF NATAL
ESTUARINE MANAGEMENT PLAN

SITUATION ASSESSMENT
MAY 2011