Coast KZN

The Profile of the KZN Coast

Management of the Coastal and Marine Environments

The coastal zone is a dynamic environment that requires careful management and protection. Coastal management, as a discourse, has gone through various stages of development, both globally and locally. There are now a number of mechanisms aimed at improving the management of the coast, both nationally and internationally.

Coastal Legislation Photo byBruce Mann

Coastal Legislation

From a legislative point of view, the South African coastal zone has been in a vacuum for a number of years, with legislation governing coastal management being fragmented across the land/sea boundary. As a result, governance of the coastal environment is also fragmented, with different departments and spheres of government taking on different management functions in order to meet their sometimes conflicting mandate. A range of historic and existing statutes have shaped coastal management in South Africa, and these accordingly need to be taken into account in the management of the KZN coast. 

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Implementation of the ICM Act Photo byKierran Allan

Implementation of the ICM Act

South Africa can boast about having arguably the finest coastal management policy and legislation anywhere. With the promulgation of the ICM Act, the coast is treated for the first time ever as a single but multi-sectoral resource for the benefit of all, representing a cornerstone for development. Yet, laws are only as good as their supporting infrastructure and effective implementation, and the persistent lack of capacity for coastal management in many municipalities in KZN presents a significant hindrance to the effective implementation of the ICM Act.

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International Agreements Photo byORI

International Agreements

There are a great many international agreements and conventions that guide and set standards for environmental management around the world. These stimulate and support the development of domestic legislation. South Africa is party to about 100 such instruments, a number of which have implications for coastal protection and management. Many of these agreements are co-ordinated by international non-governmental agencies, most under the aegis of the United Nations. Such agreements bestow rights and responsibilities on coastal managers, including several directly relevant to KZN.

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Marine Protected Areas Photo byCamilla Floros

Marine Protected Areas

Marine protected areas (MPAs), also known as marine reserves or marine parks, are important tools used to conserve the biodiversity of the marine environment and to maintain productivity, especially of harvested fish stocks. The IUCN has defined MPAs as “any area of intertidal or subtidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment”. A number if MPAs have been proclaimed along the KZN coast, although the province is still far short of achieving internationally recommended targets for coastal protection.

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NGOs and CBOs Photo byDavid Allen

NGOs and CBOs

The management of the coast is complex, requiring input from a range of stakeholders in order to make it effective. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs) are playing an increasing role in the conservation and management of the coast. NGOs have emerged in the last few decades as principal advocates of marine conservation and coastal management in KZN.

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ORI • EDTEA • Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife • University of KwaZulu-Natal • SAAMBR/ Coastwatch KZN

Research Funders



Bronwyn Goble • Melissa Lewis • Omar Parak • Rudy van der Elst • Bruce Mann • Jean Harris • Tamsyn Livingstone • Judy Mann