“The Swartkops estuary is one of the top ranked estuaries (in South Africa) in terms of its importance and economic value. Tourism alone is estimated to generate R50-million per year, subsistence use accounts for R808 953, and its value as a nursery area for fish and invertebrates is equivalent to R38.2-million.
“It provides a suitable environment for many different plant species and animal species, including about 4 000 birds in summer. It is for this reason that the Swartkops estuary is ranked as the 11th most important estuary out of the 300 estuaries in South Africa in terms of its bio-diversity.”
This is a direct quotation from the Department of Environment Affairs website dated October 10 2012. All of this is now undergoing catastrophic damage as reported in The Herald (“PE faces massive ecological disaster”, January 26) and by the Zwartkops Conservancy which has for so many years being trying to save the river from this disaster.
The Algoa Bay branch of Wessa (The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) strongly urges the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and departments of Water and Environmental Affairs to raise the level of action surrounding the ongoing pollution and degradation of the river. The NMBM needs to declare the area an ecological disaster area so that sufficient resources can be generated to stop the flow of sewage and other industrial pollutants into the river permanently.
This estuary is a national asset serving as a breeding ground for many species of fish that exit the river when mature and a bird watchers’ paradise. Very importantly it is the source of food and jobs for many local people.
Reports have been received from NMMU researcher Dr Nadine Strydom that the prawns and fish in the estuaries are showing traces of heavy metals such as cadmium and are unfit for human consumption. It is a tragedy that this important source of protein for the Aloes community and Motherwell residents is highly contaminated – a fact that many of them probably do not know.
Who takes responsibility for this serious health hazard on their doorstep?
-Martheanne Finnemore, chairwoman, Algoa Bay branch of Wessa