Regular, long-term environmental monitoring is essential to identify and to enable proactive mitigation of negative human impacts on the environment (e.g. pollution), and in so doing maintain the beneficial value of an area for all users. This is particularly pertinent for an area such as Saldanha Bay and Langebaan Lagoon, which serves as a major industrial node and port while at the same time supporting important tourism and fishing industries.
The development of the Saldanha Bay port has significantly altered the physical structure and hydrodynamics of the Bay, whilst all developments within the area (industrial, residential, tourism etc.) have the potential to negatively impact on ecosystem health. Various techniques are available to monitor the health of the environment, including measuring of physical parameters (e.g. water temperature, oxygen levels, and circulation patterns), actual pollutants (e.g. heavy metals, hydrocarbons, microbiological indicators) and biological components of the ecosystem (e.g. birds, fish and invertebrates). Nearly all measurable parameters exhibit substantial natural variability, and it is essential that environmental monitoring is conducted over the long term (years to decades) at sufficient frequency to enable identification of human-induced changes.