Coast KZN

02 Mar 2018

KZN toxic fishing danger

Chris Ndaliso (Daily News) Picture: Wentworth resident Brian John Colbeck, 47, said polluting the beach made life difficult for subsistence fishermen.

Fishermen who make a living fishing at Cuttings Beach, Merebank, can’t put food on their plates because sewerage and litter are killing the fish or chasing them away.

They told the Daily News that unless there was some urgent intervention, all marine life in the area would die.

Brian John Colbeck, of Wentworth, said the canal in the area was flowing with sewage and black water earlier this week and this had killed and chased the fish away.

“In the past two days, this area was unbearable to stick around and the stench in the air was nauseating. The firms upstream contribute to this and the eThekwini Municipality doesn’t seem interested in dealing with them.

“They do more dumping on days when it rains so as to use the rainwater as a disguise. Both the small and big canals flow straight into the sea,” Colbeck said.

The 47-year-old fisherman said he had been fishing in the area since he was 16 and that it was his only means of surviving.

“It’s tough out there; I come here to fish so that I can put food on the table for my family. This dumping has a negative impact on marine life, which in turn affects us fishermen. Since I arrived here at 4am, I have not been able to catch a single fish.

“Fishing is very bad compared to what it used to be,” he said.

Another fisherman, Ian Richards, said industries used the night and rainy days to release effluent.

Richards said it was disturbing that the municipality failed to act against the ongoing pollution of the ocean, yet the authorities were “quick” to act against illegal fishing by subsistence fishermen.

Desmond D’Sa, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance co-ordinator, said the Cuttings Beach had been a dumping ground of hazardous waste from chemical industries and sewage wastewater for many years.

“Many of these sewerage works outfalls are built on rivers and this allows the waste to flow into canals, which ultimately runs into the Durban harbour or the Indian ocean.

“Disposing (of) sewage and industrial waste into the ocean can have a serious impact on humans with illnesses such as meningitis, typhoid fever, gastroenteritis, dysentery, cholera and diarrhoea,” D’Sa said.

He said in the past few years, Durban had lost its Blue Flag beaches status because of the high levels of alkali in the sea due to the sewage and industrial waste.

“Our mayor and the municipal manager have failed to safeguard this area but instead decided to put statues first, ahead of the people’s well-being. The amendments of the budgets to put up statues instead of safeguarding human life, marine life as well as our water resources, are a shame. We ask that there be increased enforcement and sanctions applied to those who violate the by-laws of our beaches and city.”

Aubrey Snyman, DA councillor in ward 68, said pollution in the area had been an ongoing problem and the municipality was not doing enough to stop it. He said the sewage was flowing from the Southern Sewerage Works.

“The system is failing to stop this marine life destruction. Since no bathing is allowed in the area, the fishermen who depend on fish for survival are disregarded. Something needs to be done, as in on Thursday,” Snyman said.

Tozi Mthethwa, the city’s head of communications, said no illegal dumping had been reported about the beach in concern.

She said a team from the parks, recreation and culture unit was dispatched to check for any discharge or leak from the temporary public toilets at Cuttings Beach, and none was found.

The eThekwini Municipality denied any knowledge of the sewage spillage, she said.

“There is, however, litter and debris that comes down the river during peak flows (times of heavy rainfall and the uMlazi River is full of storm water). Accumulated litter and debris then washes up on to the beach,” Mthethwa said.

She said the city was looking at developing Cuttings Beach.

“However, the proposed plans are conceptual plans that can only be finalised after considering the potential environmental impact.”