Lake St Lucia Estuary – Recent Artificial Breaching

Since the presentation on the Lake St Lucia estuary by our chair, Nicolette Forbes, there has been a lot of interest in the progress of the restoration programme. Unfortunately this has been dealt a serious blow by the actions of a few shortsighted individuals.

As birders you will all know the importance of estuaries for our waterbirds and our migratory waders. The size and productivity of a functioning Lake St Lucia makes it one of the most important of waterbird habitats along the east coast. It is a Global Important Bird Area (IBA) and Prof Phil Hockey referenced it as supporting 50% of the waterbird population of KZN, which gives a clear indication of its importance. Some have questioned whether there is any issue with the activities at the mouth over the past week and have stated it doesn’t affect birds. This is a short-sighted view, even in the face of the short synopsis above, and it doesn’t take much to understand that the interventions of humans very often result in degradation of the health of an estuary. Therefore it is obvious that birds as one of the main users of the estuary at ALL trophic levels will be significantly affected by decisions that are made which impact the health of the system.

For this reason Nicolette Forbes, Prof Anthony Forbes, Prof Derek Stretch, Dr Jane Turpie, Dr Barry Clark, Prof Gerrit Basson and Eddie Bosman have sent an open letter to the government officials responsible for the health and welfare of this important estuary. This letter will also be sent to other relevant international institutions to focus attention on this serious course of events. The open letter is included below as are two newspaper articles which explore this issue.

A natural and evolving Lake St Lucia Estuary mouth

Open letter from scientists
Minister Barbara Creecy

Minister of Forestry and Fisheries and Environmental Affairs South Africa

13 January 2021
Open Letter to Ms Barbara Creecy
Minister of Forestry and Fisheries and Environmental Affairs South Africa

Recent Artificial Breaching of the Lake St Lucia estuary

We write to you as a concerned group of scientists, some of whom have worked in the Lake St Lucia Estuary since the 1970s, with extensive collective experience of estuaries and their functioning both in South Africa and internationally.

Our concern arises from the action taken on the 6 January 2021, when the sand barrier separating the Lake St Lucia Estuary from the sea was artificially breached allegedly by the iSimangaliso Authority.

To see the full letter please click on the download link below.

To read each article click on the images below.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Penelope Brown says:

    I hope that as many individuals as possible will write to Minister Creecy to ask for action to be taken against the people and organizations who enabled the outright breaching of the mouth which was clearly against the interests of the system and contrary to what had been decided. It seems that the authorities buckled to (or perhaps supported?) the self serving interests of some local players like the Ratepayers chair rather than stand firm and implement the programme based on years of thorough investigation.

  2. Mark Ward Able says:

    An Order of the High Court has been ignored, and, as such, all persons responsible need to answer to Judge J Moodly as to why they should not be found to be in contempt.
    If,as is claimed, that the intent and instruction to the contractor was to “skim” the natural berm to 1,6m, then the contractor needs to be charged criminally for the destruction of the natural resource as well as have a civil claim institited against him to recoup much of the $49m that has now been wasted.
    Mark Ward Able

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