Durban Bay, one of the most important estuaries in the province, is getting a new Estuary Management Plan, but the ‘status quo’ findings of team producing the plan are distressing. The article appearing in The Mercury (09 June 2011) draws attention to the extreme, chronic pollution; a situation at odds with the enormous value of the Bay to society as a strategic port, an economic driver, and a haven for important biodiversity. This Bay functions as a nursery for our commercial and recreational fisheries, as well as providing other “free” ecosystem goods and services that we have come to depend upon; the benefits of which we often only value once those services break down.
The good news is that, apart from the permanent losses of habitat that have accompanied the development of the port, many of the impacts suffered by the Bay are reversible. We are therefore hopeful that the Bay can be restored to a higher level of ecological health and improved levels of ecosystem services.
The first public meeting with the specialist team compiling the plan is scheduled for 22 June 2011. This is also one of the first such meetings for any Estuary Management Plan in KwaZulu-Natal. So, if you have concerns around the use or management of the Bay, or if you anticipate being involved in any other estuary management plans in the province, we would urge you to attend this meeting, and have you say.