Blue Flag status for beaches in the Garden Route National Park

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WESSA’s announcement of beaches awarded Blue Flag status include those in the Garden Route National Park (GRNP). The 2016/2017 list includes the Wilderness beach and Natures Valley beach.

Blue Flag is an international annual accreditation managed by WESSA and is given to beaches that comply with legislation and regulation around safety, amenities, cleanliness, environmental information and environmental management: http://www.wessa.org.za/uploads/documents/projects/blue-flag/2016-17_South_African_Blue_Flag_Beaches_Boats_Marinas.pdf

The news about Blue Flag beaches was received at the start of National Marine Week which begins on the 10th – 14th October 2016, a week set aside to raise awareness about the sea and marine life. While authorities work at protecting the sea by minimizing population among other interventions, there is a need to do more to protect estuaries and their surrounding wetlands which are bodies of water usually found where rivers meet the sea. They are home to unique plants and animals which are vital for the reproduction of birds, fish, and other animal species. In fact, estuaries are known as ‘nurseries of the sea’ because they are ideal for fish to reproduce.

Take small steps to help protect estuaries and ultimately the sea:

Gardening and landscaping with indigenous plants. This reduces the need for watering and fertilizing gardens. Fertilizers can be harmful to the environment.Fish sustainably by practicing  ‘catch and release’ to keep more fish alive in the sea.

For environmentally friendly boating, observe posted speeds limits.

Make sustainable sea food choices (http://wwfsassi.co.za/ )

Become an ocean-friendly pet owner and walk dogs in demarcated areas and not where birds might be breeding.

Leave the beach clean ‘what you bring in you collect philosophy

Members of the public are encouraged to post messages and pictures to the Knysna Hope Spot facebook page https://www.facebook.com/knysnahopespot/) to help raise awareness about the significance of acting responsibly to protect the sea and marine life to ensure ecosystems stay intact.