The residents living in and around Saldanha Bay and Langebaan Lagoon are truly blessed to have such a unique ecological wonder on their doorstep. Visitors to our region continually confirm this view. It has taken millennia of natural processes to provide this phenomenon. The advent of man and his need to develop, almost at all costs, has the potential to destroy this gift within a short time. The question is – how do we balance the need to conserve our natural heritage with the requirement to develop and prosper economically? There is no simple answer to this very basic question.
The conservationists have shouted their ‘green’ messages from the treetops whilst the industrialists have simply argued the need to ‘provide jobs and grow’. “Never the twain shall meet”. We will all have to change our attitudes and work together to find the balance. This is a team effort. The government has taken the first steps in providing legal guidance with the proclamation of the National Environmental Management Act and the Integrated Coastal Management Act. These Acts still have a way to go before they have the required impact to provide the answer to our question.
Saldanha Bay has been identified as an economic development node by national government and the establishment of an Industrial Development Zone is well under way. The Bay hosts a major natural harbour and is actively exporting iron ore, lead, copper and manganese. To date, most environmental impact studies have been localized and the entire Saldanha Bay and Langebaan Lagoon ecological system has not been considered. The Saldanha Bay Water Quality Forum Trust has been instrumental in the establishment of the Integrated Governmental Task Team (IGTT) that has been given the mandate to address this problem and provide environmental guidance for all future development in and around our region and Saldanha Bay. The above-mentioned legislation plus the IGTT Environmental Guidelines will form the cornerstone to a balanced approach in terms of environmental sustainability, social wellbeing and economic growth in the future. The advent of “Climate Change” brings forth sea level rise and storm events. Thus, beach erosion and sediment movement are going
to pose major challenges in the years ahead.
None of the above can take place without scientifically based information on the ‘State of the Bay’. The Saldanha Bay Water Quality Forum Trust has been the pioneer in this regard and has conducted a series of all-encompassing scientific tests with minimal resources over the last 21 years. The report is once again a perfect example of the wonderful work that they perform. The report further comes at a critical time in answering our question of balancing conservation and development.
The Trust, like the rest of the World, has had to deal with the COV ID-19 Pandemic in this past year. Notwithstanding the challenges we were able to perform our monitoring function as an essential service during the “Lockdown”. This has led to the innovation of Virtual Meetings and, for the first time, presenting the “State of the Bay” report as a webinar and in so doing expanding our reach to the various sectors of the community.
The Trust has also played an active role in the alignment of our monitoring programs within the Aquaculture Development Zone (ADZ) this past year. The Trust as a member of the ADZ Community Forum, has direct impact on the development of the ADZ where we attempt to ensure minimal impact on the Bay or the Lagoon.
The Trust is financially sound notwithstanding the closure of Arcellor Mittal Steel and PPC Cement factories. We have however identified and are busy negotiating with potential new contributors such as the Industrial Development Zone and 4 Special Forces Regiment. We are also in the process of building a financial reserve to carry the Trust through the difficult economic times that lie ahead. In conclusion let us all, National, Provincial and Local Government with the Private Sector and Non-Governmental Organizations, as partners, take hands and make a difference in conserving Saldanha Bay and Langebaan Lagoon for future generations whilst ensuring responsible development.
Alderman André Kruger
Portfolio Chairperson: Community and Operational Services
Saldanha Bay Municipality
Chairperson Saldanha Bay Water Quality Forum Trust
State of the Bay Report 2020