We are monitoring our impact on the coast in terms of marine debris and other litter. The methodology entails documenting coordinates of both beach visitors and their litter. This allows us to accurately determine who our main beach users are and the proportion of litter each type of user leaves behind.
Our preliminary 6 month study, conducted by Robin Fokker (Meet our Interns), indicated that picnickers (44%) and beach walkers (35%) made up the highest percentage of beach users, with fishermen contributing only 10%. However, the items documented on the beach were predominantly fishing-related (39%) – this proportion not including general waste such as food-packaging, cigarette butts, etc. consequently contributing disproportionately to our marine debris problem in Nature’s Valley. This is valuable data, as it gives a glimpse into a solution to the problem, which presumably stems from a lack of awareness.
From January 2017 we resumed our work under the coastal impact programme and are now performing surveys along the Nature’s Valley and Keurbooms beaches.
What we've seen so far:
Micro plastics are being found on a regular basis our beaches and in large quantities along with cigarette butts. Fisherman waste is still found in large quantities (especially along the rocks of Salt River), but there has been a decrease in the percentage this waste makes up overall on our beaches. This could be an indication the fisherman bins, which have been installed at each of the beach entrances are making a difference.
The data are also starting to show patterns, with increase of certain types of litter during peak holiday periods and a decrease when there are less beach users. This emphasizes the impact we have on our coastline and the need for more awareness and education on the subject.
In 2018, Christina Hoang, NVT intern from York University, Canada, has created an interactive platform covering the marine debris found on Nature's Valley beach (Groot River to Salt River) and Keurbooms Beach. . The interactive site, has debris data from May 2017 until June 2018, it depicts concentrations of different types of debris and location of problem areas. We will be updating the information on a monthly basis to keep you informed.
Below is a little peek into what the plastic situation looks like in the Valley:
Nature’s Valley is well known fishing area for many fishermen, both recreational and subsistence. With such coastal activities, as many others, there is always potential to impact our marine resources and wildlife. In order to mitigate any such impact NVT has erected fisherman’s bins at each of the seven beach entrances as well as the estuary parking area in Nature’s Valley. We are recording the deposits into these bins on a monthly basis to establish the ecological impacts on our marine resources.
The results for the last 18 months, from June 2015 until December 2016, suggest that fishing line is the most prevalent item discarded on our beaches making up just over half (53%) of the debris deposited in our bins. Other fishing items, like hooks, sinkers, lures, etc. make up 26% of debris while non-fishing related items such as plastics, glass, paper, etc. each had less than 10% occurrence over the 18 month period. Data from 2016 suggest that during the Easter holiday period, fishermen were more active on Nature’s Valley beaches, leaving more line behind during this period. Surprisingly, December - a period with extreme beach use by holiday makers - showed a reduced amount of fishing debris deposited in our bins.
Over the last 18 months over 3 kg of fishing line has been deposited in our bins but surprisingly not during our peak beach use periods, i.e. December holiday. This is most likely due to a lack of awareness around best practice and waste management pertaining to activities such as fishing.
To combat this lack of knowledge NVT has rolled out a fisherman impact study which will focus on educating fishermen on various topics, such as marine debris, fishing regulations, tagging fish etc.