Marine Projects

Marine Conservancy: Margaret Bacon to 6th Avenue, Emdloti

The Conservancy is found on the South side of eMdloti / uMdloti extending from the Ski Boat club to Sixth Ave. (approximately 1 km). eThekweni municipality proclaimed the area a conservancy due to the success of the mussel project being carried out on these rocks by the Oceanographic Research Institute (O.R.I.). The mussel beds in this area are significantly denser – more than double- than exploited areas close by. These mussel beds serve as nursery grounds for mussels and other invertebrate species, including rock lobsters, octopus as well as fish such as Natal stumpnose, musselcracker, pompano and blacktail. The presence of mussel beds is known to increase the diversity and biomass of fish in an area; healthy mussel beds can thus improve fishing by providing protection, living space and food (see documents: ORI 1 mussels Proff. Rudy van der Elst). Scientific research in protected areas along the coast of South Africa has shown that the number of fish caught in fishing areas adjacent to these protected areas increases significantly (SABC Fifty -Fifty Aug 2016).

History Rock mussels are an important coastal asset in KwaZulu-Natal, not only as a part of eco-systems, but also as a valuable resource for harvesting and food security. Over the years, conservation of mussel beds has relied mainly on the sale of permits and limiting daily bag levels. However, severe deterioration of mussel beds and other marine life in the 1980s justified the need for better protection of certain key mussel sites. This was especially the case for Umdloti Beach where, following consultation with residents, a specific area was closed for the collection of mussels, rock lobsters, crabs, mole crabs and red baits in 1998. (documents: ORI 1 Prof Rudy van der Elst) Although the Conservancy was a huge success in terms of protecting mussels etc, it also caused great controversy due to the no-fishing / harvesting policy in the area. The council was taken to High Court by the KZN Angling Club in 2015 who claimed that no-fishing in the area was illegal and racist. After a lengthy court case, during which the Judge heard both sides of the story and carefully reviewed all the scientific information, the Judge ruled in favour of the marine monitoring area remaining in place due to the success of the mussel project and the desperate need for marine conservation along SA coast.

Changing perceptions:
How can we get the public to take ownership of the conservancy and be proud of it? With the support of Blue Fund ( the eMdloti / uMdloti Conservancy aim to draw the public’s awareness to the uniqueness and wonder of the conservancy (the only other protected mussel beds on the KZN coast are 200kms up in Isimangaliso Wetland Park!). Amongst other things, educational signage is to be erected along the conservancy stretch informing the public about the projects taking place. Blue Fund’s support of the conservancy will benefit scientific research, public awareness, eco-tourism and community building. We hope to really make a positive difference, not only to eMdloti / uMdloti conservancy, but the area as a whole!

Eco-Tourism: The future is bright With the world’s natural areas becoming scarcer, eco-tourism, which provides tourists with the opportunity to connect with nature, is the new buzz word amongst discerning tourists, environmentalists and those involved in job creation. The eco-tourist is looking for something more than glitz, glam and a good tan! We envision a well managed green-marine corridor stretching from eMdloti / uMdloti estuary to the Umhlanga estuary in the heart of a rapidly growing urban jungle. Show-casing beautiful beaches, a conservancy site, protected coastal forests and two estuaries. The stretch between 6th Ave eMdloti / uMdloti and Umhlanga estuary is unique in that it will remain undeveloped with the forest meeting the beach. With the airport just 10 min away from uMhlanga, eMdloti / uMdloti and the new Sibaya precinct, this beautiful area can be developed with eco-tourism in mind.

Green CoastWESSA ( have expressed an interest in making the eMdloti / uMdloti Conservancy site their pilot project. Vince Shacks (WESSA) envisions two more Green Coasts sites – one at Peace Cottage and one at Umhlanga lagoon (where an education centre is soon to be built). These three Green Coasts sites, strategically placed along this corridor, will work together to increase public awareness of the area as an eco-tourist destination as well as serve as stations to base security guards (with radio contact to each other and UIP bases). With team work between all role players i.e. Umhlanga UIP, Tongaat-Hullett, eMdloti / uMdloti UIP and Blue Fund there can eventually be guided walks between Umdloti and Umhlanga, rocky shore education, cycle and walking paths in the forest, birding, etc. Through this several job opportunities will be created. The economy of the area will be stimulated by increased hotel, B&B and restaurant occupancy.

Academic projects (see Documents – Marine Conservation Projects)
ORI 1 Mussels Prof Rudy van der Els
ORI 2 Mussels Unpublised Report Erica Steyn
UKZN monitoring zoanthid population

Additional support required:

  • Signage
  • Permanent guard-policing/informing/security
  • Dune Rehabilitation
  • Alien vegetation removal
  • Endemic planting programme

Municipal details:

  • eThekweni Conservancy
  • Litter pick-up daily
Pilot Blue Flag Beaches

eMdloti / uMdloti currently has two pilot Blue Flag beaches.
On the north is theTidal pool and to the south is the Main Beach. Obtaining a Blue Flag is a prestigious achievement as the flag is only awarded to beaches that fit the criteria of a Blue Flag beach. The criteria are determined by an international committee. The aim of the Blue Flag is to encourage discerning tourists to visit the beach knowing that certain standards have been met.

For more information about Blue Flag Beach Status, please visit:
The Blue Fund

Additional support required for eMdloti / uMdloti Pilot Blue Flag beaches to receive full accreditation: Tidal Pool: North Beach, eMdloti / uMdloti

  • New Lifesavers Building (see document)
  • Rubble removal from Tidal Pool
  • Removal of concrete pillars at mouth of tidal pool
  • Environmental management

Main Beach: South Beach, eMdloti / uMdloti

  • Lifesavers over peak periods
Undeveloped Stretch: 6th Avenue to uMhlanga Lagoon

This is a unique, undeveloped area in the middle of a rapidly expanding urban jungle. The forest is protected and managed by the Conservation Trust set up by Tongaat-Hulett Sibaya precinct. The stretch of beach is currently a “no-go” area to most people who regard it as unsafe. With proper management in place the beach can become a valuable eco-tourist haven. Security guards with radio contact to each other and their respective bases are needed to keep an eye on the beach and its users in order for safety to improve. In the future additional jobs can be created through the training of “beach rangers” who can escort people on walks between eMdloti / uMdloti and uMhlanga, and also conduct rocky shore explorations at spring tide.

eThekweni details:

  • Litter pick-up 1 x month

Additional Support Required:

  • Permanent guard- security/policing/educating
  • Fisherman education
  • Forest edge monitoring-free cutting Check for illegal inhabitants
  • Guided walks between the towns along the beach and through the forest
  • Supplementary litter pick-up (eMdloti / uMdloti UIP employed a staff member from Oct 2016 to pick up litter along this stretch once a week. This has made a significant difference to the litter situation)

Academic Projects:
Forest studies by UKZN (see documents: Forest Projects)

Dune Rehabilitation Project Management Plan

Dune Rehabilitation Project Management Plan September 2015:
Dudley Horn, Trevor Edwards, Allister Starke

Sweetwater River - eMdloti / uMdloti

Additional support required:

  • Alien vegetation removal
  • Endemic planting programme
  • Plant indigenous species
  • Boardwalk
  • Educational signage
eMdloti / uMdloti Lagoon - eMdloti / uMdloti/La Mercy

Additional support required:

  • Alien vegetation removal
  • Endemic planting programme
  • Dune rehabilitation

A Shared Vision

With our neighbours

Working together – A united purpose

  • uMhlanga UIP have planned a boardwalk and education centre for uMhlanga lagoon
  • Tongaat-Hulett and the Sibaya Development will protect and manage the forest with the establishment of a Conservation Trust.
  • The Conservation Trust will be responsible for the rehabilitation, management and maintenance of the forest portions of the overall precinct, including the Hawaan Forest, Umhlanga and Forest 31.
  • The Mount Moreland Conservancy and Barn Swallow project is established and well managed (Rhino Award and IBA Status)
  • The municipality has recently announced that the Tidal pool and Main Beach eMdloti / uMdloti, have been awarded Pilot Blue Flag status, due to the good water quality and infrastructure.

The UIP & Conservancy Forum Participation

  • The eThekweni Resilient City Programme
  • The eThekweni Conservancy Forum
  • The KZNFNC (The KZN Forest Networking Committee

Academic Projects

The UIP welcomes and is kept informed about Academic Projects carried out in the area:
Click here to see Conservancy Documents

  • The mussel bed monitoring project (ORI)
  • The Zoanthid Population Monitoring Project (UKZN and Enzemvelo)
  • Dune Rehabilitation Project (Allister Starke)
  • Floristic survey of uMhlanga Forest (UKZN)
  • The effects of Climate Change on the Coastal Forest (UKZN)
  • Citizen Science (UKZN)


Thank you for your valuable input and participation!

Dr Angus Macdonald
Rocky Shore Community Dynamics: Zoanthid Communities
School of Life Sciences
Tel: 031 260 8633

Prof Rudy van der Elst
Protection of Mussel Beds at eMdloti / uMdloti
SA Ass for Marine Biological Research
Tel: 031 328 8222

Cara Reily
The Value of Place-making

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