Draft by-law to protect Cape Town coastlines

The City’s draft coastal by-law, which will cover a broad range of topics such as fishing, the launching of vessels and pollution, will be available for public comment next month.

“Our coastline draws millions of tourists and local visitors every year; it is central to our identity, and gives us a sense of place and pride. We also cannot overestimate the importance of the coast to our local economy.

“It is a public asset that must be preserved and protected for current and future generations,” said mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, Marian Nieuwoudt.

“The draft by-law will assist us to better manage our coastline and enable law enforcement of activities that may have a damaging impact on the coastal environment.”

The draft by-law will be available for public comment as from today, Thursday August 1 until Monday September 2.

The City will also host eight public hearings where residents can ask questions and comment.

The draft by-law will be applicable to the public coastal zones. It covers the seashore, the coastal waters, and the environment on, in, under, and above the coastal zone.

The proposed by-law addresses:

Poaching, or illegal fishing.

Harvesting, or removal of vegetation.

Removal of sand, pebbles, rocks, shells, and kelp.

Removal of or damage to indigenous coastal vegetation


Pollution and dumping

Encroachment of private property into the coastal environment.

Measures to remove encroachments, and rehabilitate affected land.

Possession or consumption of liquor or drugs.

Hawking or doing business without authorisation.

Launching of vessels.

Issuing of fines for contraventions.

“One of the most important aspects of the proposed by-law is that it will give the City the legislative powers to enforce the public’s right to access and enjoy our beaches and sea. Some residents are claiming the beaches or parcels of land in front of their properties as their own private areas by either extending their homes or gardens, sinking swimming pools, or building walkways with ‘no-access’ signs on them. Our coastline belongs to all South Africans, and the by-law will be used to entrench this right,” said Ms Nieuwoudt.

The City says it plans to use the by-law as a legislative tool to, among other things:

Entrench and enforce the public’s right to freely access and enjoy our coastline.

Ensure the sustainable use and development of the coastal area.

Promote the protection of the natural environment of the coastal zone.

Manage and promote public access to beaches and beach areas.

Prevent anti-social behaviour on beaches and beach areas.

Manage access to and the use of public amenities on the beach and beach areas.

Enable better regulation, protection, and governance of the coastline as a sensitive and economically valuable asset.

Ensure measures are taken to rehabilitate or correct actions that have a damaging impact on the coastal environment.