On 6 January 2021, the St Lucia Estuary mouth was officially reopened after ten years. The opening of the estuary mouth arose from discussions at a multi-disciplinary symposium hosted by the Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority in October and again in December 2020. This stakeholder engagement included environmental scientists and lawyers, small-scale fishing communities as well as other important affected stakeholders.
A unanimous resolution was taken by the stakeholders to recommend to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority that urgent action be taken to prepare the area to attempt to achieve a reconnection between the sea and the St Lucia lake, and Umfolozi and Umsunduzi rivers.
Five months after the opening of the mouth, small-scale fishing communities in Northern KwaZulu- Natal in Nkundusi and Nibela have restored their livelihoods.
“The opening of the mouth has been a huge victory for small-scale fishing communities. Fishers have seen a huge increase in the number of fish available said,” Lindani Ngubane community liaison facilitator from Masifundise.
The reopening has however devastated subsistence farmers from Sokhulu and Dukuduku as it has resulted in massive flooding on their farming land.
“Subsistence farmers have been hit badly by the opening, some of their crops have drowned as a result of the flood caused by the open St Lucia mouth channel. The government needs to declare that area a disaster site and assist these farmers,” lamented Ngubane.