MARITIME: Marine Law Enforcement Benefits
Recent Western Cape Business News
The new Cape Town Marine and Coastal Law Enforcement and Compliance Task Team conducted the first of many multi-agency marine law enforcement operations from 15 to 18 November 2012.
This task team comprises the City of Cape Town’s Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit, the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the South African Police Services (SAPS) Borderline Police, the Table Mountain National Park Marine Unit, the South African Revenue Services Customs Section, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, CapeNature Conservation and the South African Maritime Safety Association (SAMSA).
The operation coincided with the opening of the recreational West Coast rock lobster season and covered the coastal area from Kommetjie to Miller’s Point. The objective of the joint operation was to enforce compliance with the Marine Living Resources Act, the Maritime Safety Act, and other legislation enforced by the Departments involved in the operation.
The slipway access points at Miller’s Point, Witsands and Kommetjie were policed, ensuring compliance with the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA), public safety and security. Recreational fishing permits, boat safety equipment and seaworthiness certificates were inspected and checked by law enforcement officials. All vehicles and trailers were checked for roadworthiness and licensing. Visible policing was also conducted along the coastline during the operation.
Joint patrols were carried out at sea on all four days in the in-shore marine environment. The City's marine patrol vessel, the SAPS Borderline patrol vessel, and the South African National Parks Marine Unit patrol vessels were deployed during the operation and coordinated through a single command post.
The City has recently established a specialised Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit within its law enforcement structures. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has supported the City in this initiative, and have designated a number of City Law Enforcement staff as Fisheries Control Officers with powers to enforce the MLRA.
The objective of the Task Team is to develop and implement a Cooperative Marine and Coastal Compliance and Law Enforcement strategy for Cape Town’s coastal zone. The start of the West Coast rock lobster season was chosen for the first multi-agency operation, as it is an important weekend when people access the sea for the first time in many months. This gives law enforcement agencies an opportunity to ensure that their presence is visible at the start of the season, improving awareness of the MLRA amongst both commercial and recreational fishers.
“The City of Cape Town is excited to be a part of the newly-established Task Team and is committed to a new integrated approach towards marine law enforcement. This cooperation between the City, the DAFF, SAPS and SANParks is the beginning of a tougher and more consistent enforcement focus to protect the city’s marine living resources and to fight poaching. Tougher enforcement is essential if we are to make progress in suppressing the criminal syndicates that profiteer from pillaging the city’s coastline as well as their links with drug dealing and gang activity. The City is giving life to its Constitutional competency relating to small harbours, while partnering with SAPS and others to prevent crime,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman J.P. Smith.
The joint operation achieved considerable success in ensuring compliance and enforcement of marine laws. All agencies agreed that key to this partnership was regular and on-going joint operations with an increased visible presence along the coastline.
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