The City of Cape Town in South Africa has broken new ground through the establishment of an innovative and specialised Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit. The unit will work with all other coastal regulatory agencies to ensure the protection of Cape Town’s coastline.
The City of Cape Town has over 300km of coastline, offering numerous economic, social and environmental benefits to surrounding communities, and the area as a whole. Although the City’s jurisdiction is determined by the high-water mark, illegal economic, recreational and environmental activities operate across these jurisdictional boundaries.
Unfortunately, these illegal activities are impacting negatively on the marine and coastal environment. The drug trade, organised crime and environmental transgressions that occur in these areas have a subsequent negative impact on residents, local livelihood opportunities and the ecotourism potential of our city.
Marine and coastal management is a National Government competency, but the extent of the coastline, vast coastal waters associated with resource shortages, institutional complications and a highly driven criminal element has resulted in limited actual and visible policing in the inshore marine and coastal environment.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has developed an active programme that assists municipalities in becoming more operationally effective in the near inshore marine and coastal environment in order that they may support DAFF’s law enforcement and compliance efforts. Cape Town stands to be one of the first beneficiaries of this unique and new approach by DAFF.
Following a two day workshop between the two parties, held in June 2012, it was agreed and recognised that a proactive multi-agency collaboration was needed to further address marine law enforcement. This workshop resolved that considering illegal activities, economies, safety and ecology took place across jurisdictional boundaries, the most appropriate means of effective policing and enforcement was through a collaborative Cape Town Marine and Coastal Law Enforcement and Compliance Task Team.
This task team is chaired and led by DAFF and is tasked with multi-agency action, shared information and collective outcomes in the best interests of all of our citizens.
The Task Team was officially established in September 2012 and comprises representatives from DAFF, the City of Cape Town Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit, the SAPS Borderline Police, the Table Mountain National Park Marine Unit, SARS Customs, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Department of Environmental Affairs, CapeNature Conservation and the South African Maritime Safety Association (SAMSA). These are all agencies responsible for marine and coastal law enforcement, management and regulation.
The objective of the Task Team is to develop and implement a Cooperative Marine and Coastal Compliance and Law Enforcement Strategy for the coastal zone within the City of Cape Town Metropole.
As a measure of the City’s commitment to this partnership, the Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman J.P Smith, has provided his support and approval for the development of a City of Cape Town Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Strategy and an associated specialised Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit to work directly with this new Task Team.
“The Unit will aim to address hotspots of illegal activity and non-compliance, as well as dealing with safety and security at the City’s beaches and coastal resorts. They will provide support to the all the agencies along the City’s coastline and act as a force multiplier when required. They will also be conducting regular inshore boat patrols on the City’s newly acquired law enforcement vessel,” said Smith.
Moving into the future, the City will build on the current partnerships and inter-agency cooperation that have been established, and will also be focussing on awareness around the marine and coastal environment and regulations.
Source: City of Cape Town