Trash on Clifton beach

Trash found on Clifton 4th beach.

Michael Broomberg, Sea Point

While walking on Clifton 4th beach, the attached pictures are just a tiny speck of the magnitude of trash that washed up on the beach recently due to the strong tides.

I shudder to think how many fish, dolphins, seals, turtles and whales have already ingested trash and will end up dead in the oceans around us.

This is an unprecedented sight and it really has reached a point of critical mass. It also really saddens me because I grew up in Cape Town and have had the good fortune of having seen how clean it used to be.

Please forward this to those in government who might be able to do something about it. Unfortunately the seaweed cannot be buried as is normally done because of the entanglement of plastic, ropes and other non degradable items that will have to be separated before being buried.

I have a theory that a lot of trash is coming from the container ships heading towards our harbour.

Instead of having to pay harbour fees for unloading trash, they throw it overboard before they dock, thus saving money, but that is my theory and my humble opinion.

Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, responds:

Cape Town is a rapidly growing city in terms of spatial extent and populous. With this increased growth comes increased pressures, notably pollution of the marine and coastal environment.

Unfortunately, Cape Town’s coastline is on the receiving end of multiple sources of pollution which is also compounded by environmental factors.

For example, the City faces huge challenges with the illegal dumping of substances into the stormwater systems which ultimately get discharged onto the beach and into the sea. The litter on the city’s beaches does get worse after rainfall, where the stormwater systems are effectively flushed, with the contents landing up on the beaches.

Another source which you have pointed out are vessels, where such pollution gets pushed ashore by currents or wind, with the latter taking place on the Atlantic seaboard during cold fronts that blow onshore. The City’s Solid Waste conducts beach clean-up processes every day, but at times they do struggle to cope with the load.

The City’s Coastal Management Branch is also developing a Coastal By-law which will also hopefully discourage people from dumping waste into the stormwater system.

The challenge of pollution from vessels is a national government competency and the City is working closely with the National Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries: Oceans and Coasts to develop strategies to address this issue.