Human recreational activity and its impact on a metropolitan coastline

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Recreation has an important social function in modern societies, with ever-increasing pressures in the day-to-day life being felt by most people. This study addresses the impact of recreational activity on metropolitan shorelines, with particular reference to the False Bay shoreline. During summer holiday periods shoreline utilization in the Western Cape peaks on the public holidays of 26 December, 1 and 2 January, beach attendances reaching levels of 2 to 10 times higher than attendances on other days during the summer holidays. The greatest proportion of visitors to the beach (94%) engage in non-exploitative activities, such as sunbathing and swimming. Most visitors occur on the beaches between 12h00 and 16h00, week-ends being most popular during out-of-season periods, but in-season week day attendances exceed those of weekends. Only 6% of visitors surveyed were engaged in exploitative activities such as angling and bait- or food-gathering. Conservation awareness of visitors to the shore is related to the place of residence of the person, as well as activity engaged in by the person. Fish numbers and their size frequency distributions in protected areas differs to those of unprotected areas. If boulders on a sheltered shore are over-turned during bait gathering it has an adverse effect on the boulder communities, whether the boulders are replaced or left over-turned. When bait gatherers target on mussel-worms as bait, they may cause inadvertent damage to the primary matrix of mussel bed or tube-worm reef in the process, thereby affecting ecological succession processes in the intertidal environment. Management of metropolitan shorelines must therefore provide for quality recreational experiences, while applying conservation measures to selected areas that are susceptible to over-exploitation under the onslaught of ever-increasing numbers of recreationists. For such measures to be of any benefit to the marine environment, it is essential that people are not only informed, but that the regulations are also properly enforced.

Includes bibliography.