The 4U2FISH campaign is in place to ensure that the domestic tourism market associated with fishing, hunting and collecting of natural renewable resources is taken seriously by the tourism bodies and businesses within Umkhanyakude District Municipality.Fishermen and their crews have a bad rap here in St. Lucia and they are not really welcome at most tourism establishments within the village of St. Lucia. This change of attitude by the local tourism businesses did not happen in 24 hours, but was a slow process that was managed and driven, through elegant high level PUBLLIC PERCEPTION MANAGEMENT by the IWPA (iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority) in their very devious and sneaky efforts to ensure that the waters of lake St. Lucia change from a salt water estuary system to a fresh water lake system, so that dune mining may be seen as an ecologically and economically viable option when the mining companies step into the picture.
Before our area, the old Maputuland Coast, was declared as a world heritage site in December 1999, as an apparent ploy to prevent mining of lake St. Lucia and the St. Lucia Estuary System, fisher folks were the core base of the St. Lucia tourism industry, and were most welcome as paying guests in St. Lucia. The St. Lucia tourism industry sustained three caravan parks that were fully functional and full every week end. If one wanted to visit Cape Vidal over the week end, one would need to be in the line at the gate before 1 AM in the morning, to ensure that you were one of the few allowed into the park, as the numbers were limited, and many people wanted to visit the park.
We need to remember that the area was declared as a park long before the idea of a world heritage site was thought of, and the old NPB (Natal Parks Board ) ran the park as a farm, which supplied fish, prawns and many other natural renewable resources for the folks living within Umkhanyakude district municipality.
in 1998 our beaches were busy, businesses were flourishing and tourism within Umkhanyakude was a truly big thing. The government and big business within South Africa were all excited and looking for ways to expand this impact and increase the economic impact of tourism associated with recreational beach use. Unfortunately there were also some folks who had other ideas, like mining.........
Domestic tourism within Umkhanyakude was a truly huge thing, and there was an awful lot of interest in the economics associated with an expanding tourism base connected with recreational activities and the eco tourism base of our beaches and the St. Lucia estuary system.
CONSUMPTIVE TOURISM was flourishing and everybody was making money. The home stay style tourism businesses within the coastal belt between Mbaswane and Manguzi was awash with visitors from Joburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Pietersburg and other areas of the Transvaal, the Freestate and the rest of KZN. Domestic tourism within Umkhanyakude was a big thing.
Unfortunately for us, the big mining companies wanted to, and still want to, mine the lake and surrounding sand dunes for titanium and other minerals. For them (the mining industry ) to succeed they needed to ensure that the domestic tourism industry collapsed, and would thus be unable to challenge the mining of our non renewable resources within the rich mineral sands that have been deposited over the years within the flood plains and surrounding sand dunes of the greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park. hence the 4x4 ban which did its job and hurt domestic tourism industry, causing some 20 000 job losses
Mining is a short term financial income strategy, but tourism is a long term business model that will employ many more folks than the mining industry, and have a much wider tax base, that will also be around for many years. Those who want to mine our sand dunes and water ways within the Greater St. Lucia Wetlands park have understood this for a long time, but have always been looking at ways to get in, mine and leave without spending large volumes of cash on REHABILITATION like they are currently doing in the areas just South Of Mapelane. We need to remember that they started mining our sand dunes in 1974, just North of Richards Bay, and that this mining has ensured the growth of Richards bay into the thriving industrial port that exists in Richards Bay today.
So they have been mining our sand dunes along the east coast of KZN South of Richards bay for more than 45 years. In this time these mining houses have made huge unthinkable volumes of cash, and their options are now running out. We need to remember that the Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park was declared as a WORLD HERITAGE SITE in December 1999, from within the well managed smoke screen of public intent to prevent the mining of our beautiful tourism destinations along the then MAPUTULAND COAST. The first thing that the new authority did was to ensure that the mouth to the St. Lucia Estuary was closed, and stayed closed. The IWPA did not exist at that time, but ........
The Greater St. Lucia wetlands Park Authority was renamed to the iSimangaliso Wetland park in 2007, but this organisation has been pushing hard to keep the St. Lucia Estuary Mouth closed and ensure that the ocean does not connect to the lake and estuary system. The so called REHABILITATION which the IWPA undertook in early 2017, where they connected the Umfolozi River to the St. Lucia Lake System, by passing the natural filter system of the Umfolozi Flood Plains, has ensured that the lake has silted up, and that there is no way that the estuary will be able to have a natural breach ever again. The tremendous amount of FRESH CLAY that was compacted by the bulldozers that pushed the dredger spoil into the Indian Ocean during this so called rehabilitation process is a real problem, as this introduced clay layer forms a PLUG that will not easily be eroded away, as sea sand would have been.
The residents of St. Lucia tried to talk about this during the public participation process but were closed down very quickly by the scientific component of the IWPA estuary management team. I have been saying that the IWPA is preparing the St. Lucia Estuary and lake systems for mining for some time now, as the mining technology does not allow for mining in a saline (salt water ) system, and thus the new fresh look of the lake and estuary system is good for the mining industry.
Then there are the many cases where the IWPA closed down the informal home stay / back yard camp sites within the Umhlabuyalingana and BIG 5 / Hlabisa municipalities. This happened in a very sneaky and devious manner around the same time that the 4x4 ban was introduced. This process coincided with the very big drive by the national government to close down coastal tourism businesses that did not conform to unrealistically high criteria that they demanded. The Transkie coastal belt suffered extensive losses within their rather active tourism industry which collapsed as a result of these rather nasty closures of informal and semi formal tourism businesses.
With some hind sight and lots of digging around to try and discover where our business within Umkhanyakude disappeared to when our beaches were closed to reasonable motor vehicle traffic way back in 2001 / 2002, one can very easily join the dots and come to some rather disturbing conclusions. The Occasional Paper 20 by KZN Tourism which discusses the losses associated with the #4x4ban, alledges that more than 20 000 folks within Umkhanyakude district municipality lost their economic opportunities as a knock on impact of the 4x4ban, and goes on to say that more research is needed as there appear to be other mitigating circumstances which they were unable to pinpoint with the limited budget and resources at their disposal.
The fact that international tourism boomed and flourished after the area was declared a world heritage site, was expected, and if this did not materialise, then something would be very wrong. The collapse of the domestic tourism market within Umkhanyakude district municipality on the other hand, was caused by the mismanagement of the physical environment and related renewable resources through the actions, activities, policies and management style of the IWPA.
These guys (The IWPA ) have no intention of ever fixing the ecological problems and economic impacts associated with a dysfunctional estuary
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