Masifundise, Durban Urban Futures Unit, the Coastal Justice Network from One Ocean Hub at Rhodes and University of Cape Town and community representatives from several Kosi Bay and Nibela communities, have tabled a letter to the Isimangaliso Wetland Authority on the inadequate and exclusionary public consultation process of the 10-year draft of the Integrated Management Plan (IMP) aimed for 2022 -2031.

This letter comes after the derisory response by Isimangaliso Wetland Authority to written comments made by the Legal Resources Centre on behalf of stakeholders and interested parties that were submitted on 30 October 2020 for the Draft Plan.

“We had hoped that the concerns that we had brought forward in our written comments would be taken into consideration, however it seems that Isimangaliso is not willing to engage meaningfully and address the number of concerns that we have,” said Sibongiseni Gwebani from Masifundise.

The written comments highlighted the failure of the IMP to recognize and cater for the customary rights of small-scale fishing communities. They also emphasized the lack of meaningful engagement with local communities on the developments of the IMP as well as the limited public consultation process that was initiated.  Of pressing concern was the failure of the Draft Plan to address the current zonation of the St Lucia and Kosi Bay Estuaries and the Isimangaliso MPA from the perspective of the fishing rights of the SSF communities.  Fishers continue to experience harassment from rangers in the Park as a result of this lack of synergy between various legislative and policy regimes.

“We have critical concerns that we have voiced out on a number of occasions about both the consultation process from a procedural perspective and the content of the Draft IMP which we believe may undermine the rights of communities.” said One Ocean Hub researcher, Jackie Sunde.

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