Coast KZN

State of the Coast: KZN

State of the Coast: KwaZulu-Natal

State of the coast reporting is a statutory requirement in South Africa and is used to acquire practical knowledge on the current state of the coastal environment, trends and pressures ecosystems are exposed to and the associated impacts. It should identify emerging problems, better inform anticipatory planning and guide future management actions such as conservation, development planning and legislation going forward. The KZN SoCR describes the condition of the biophysical, socioeconomic and governance environments and highlights the responses needed to improve the overall state of the KZN coast. A key output of this initial SoCR is to identify data gaps and monitoring needs.

The reporting system for the KZN SoCR is based on the Drivers-Pressures-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework, a conceptual model which has been widely accepted and applied globally in assessing, communicating and addressing environmental issues and challenges. The multidimensional and integrated framework allows for the analysis of the cause-and-effect relationships related to human needs (the drivers); human activities (the pressures); the trends in environmental state; the resulting environmental, social or economic changes (the impacts); and the political and management actions to be taken (responses).

The KZN SoCR is provides evidence-based environmental information based on the assessment of scientific knowledge and data gathered up until March 2022. The report is structured according to eight main themes or spheres of significance related to the KZN coastal zone; and for each of these themes the drivers of change, the pressures on them, the current state, and potential impacts are assessed, and key response actions identified and recommended.  The first two themes provide a broader overview of human needs at a global scale (Chapter 2) and cross-cutting issues of concern in relation to climate variability (Chapter 3).

The final six themes include an overview of the KZN coastal, estuarine and marine ecosystems (Chapters 4 to 6), and thereafter the human, economic and governance spheres (Chapters 7 to 9).  Ecosystems are systems characterised by the complex interactions between biological communities consisting of all living organisms (including humans) and abiotic environments, and accordingly these final six themes are collectively referred to in the report as ecosystems.

The main crosscutting environmental threats identified by this report include pollution (especially sewage treatment), climate change, coastal sand mining, oil and gas exploration and changes in human settlements. In addition, possible emerging issues to be considered going forward include water quality concerns, new diseases largely through aquaculture, and ongoing and increased mining in the EFZs.

Chapter 10 of the SoCR summarises the specific actions for each sub-system (Table 10.1 – See Chapter 10) and provides more general actions that can be taken to improve the overall state of the KZN coastal environment. These include actions relating to governance, awareness and education, planning and long-term monitoring.


This is a joint publication between the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) and the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI).

This publication is compiled through collaboration with many experts, organisations and individuals that are acknowledged and sincerely thanked for their contributions, without which this Report would not be possible. 

Andrew Mather (eThekwini Municipality)

Bianca McKelvey (ORI)

Bronwyn Goble (ORI)

Bruce Mann (ORI)

Debbie Jewitt (Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife)

Erika Steyn (ORI)

Fiona MacKay (ORI)

Heidi van Deventer (CSIR & UP)

Janine Adams (Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, NMU)

Kaylee Smit (UCT & SANBI)

Larry Oellermann (SAAMBR)

Laura Braby (SAEON, Egagasini Node)

Linda Harris (Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, NMU)

Marilyn Bodasing (ORI)

Marinel Willemse (ex ORI)

Michael Schleyer (ORI)

Neil Stallard (ex Director: Zini Fish Farms)

Rudy van der Elst (ORI)

Sean Fennessy (ORI)

Sean Porter (ORI)

Stephen Lamberth (DFFE)

Steven Weerts (CSIR)

Susan Taljaard (CSIR)

Tamsyn Livingstone (ex EKZN Wildlife)

Taryn Riddin (Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, NMU)

We acknowledge the ORI, CSIR, SANBI, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and other organisations for access to their datasets in the compilation of this Report. Special thanks to the contributing authors of the South African National Biodiversity Assessment 2018 - Marine, Coastal and Estuarine Realms.