Two of Knysna’s favourite beaches, Buffalo Bay and Brenton-on-Sea, once again received Blue Flag status for the upcoming holiday season. While dogs will still be allowed to enjoy the beaches, their movements will be more restricted to comply with international Blue Flag requirements.
Knysna Municipal Manager Lauren Waring explained that provisions for Blue Flag beaches were very strict and included that no dogs were allowed in the designated bathing areas during the peak holiday periods from 1 December 2012 to 31 January 2013.
“However, to accommodate dog owners and still remain within the Wildlife Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA) criteria, designated areas outside the swimming zone will be open for this purpose before 9am and after 5pm every day. In Brenton the pet-friendly zone is 300 metres west of the second lifesaving flag and in Buffalo Bay it starts east of the last beach residence.
“Dogs must be on a leash at all times, mainly for the protection of the endangered African Black Oystercatchers that are currently breeding on the
sand and rocks. While we recognise that dogs that walk and run with their owners regularly are usually well-socialised and accustomed to interact with
strange dogs and people, it is still important to consider the potential threat of injury to people and they are therefore not allowed to roam free in peak holiday times.”
Pet owners are requested not to bury dog poop in the sand or throw it out to sea, but are required to clean up after their dogs and dispose of poop bags in the correct bins.
Normal access routes can be used to these beaches.
Ms Waring said the municipality wants to thanks the residents for the role they play in keeping their local beaches clean, neat and beautiful. “We realise that it is often local residents who pick up litter that has washed onto the beaches or report to us when things go wrong, and appreciate it.”
She appealed to dog owners making use of Buffalo Bay, Brenton-on-Sea and Swartvlei beaches to respect the Blue Flag requirements for this period. “Blue Flag status is an international accreditation and the programme offers many benefits: improved tourism facilities, enhanced management of coastal ecosystems, it delivers educational awareness programmes and ensures excellent water quality standards and facilities. Keep the bigger picture in mind and help us to keep this status year on year,” said Ms Waring.
She said that there will be a strong law enforcement presence on both beaches in December and January as per the Blue Flag international standards.
South Africa has participated in the Blue Flag programme since 2001. Blue Flag is an international coastal management programme that accredits beaches that meet standards of excellence in water quality, environmental management, environmental education and information as well as safety and
services. In South Africa the programme is implemented by WESSA.