Eastern Cape Tourist AttractionsDwesa-Cwebe Marine Protected Area
Where? Dwesa-Cwebe Marine Protected Area forms part of the Dwesa Nature Reserve, Wild Coast, Eastern Cape
The aim of a marine protected area is to conserve marine life. They take the form of a collaboration between civil society, communities and government that promote conservation and safeguard threatened marine species and important habitats.
In 2000 Dwesa-Cwebe was declared a no take marine protected area (MPA), with the order that no fishing be allowed in the area, so as to protect this small but vulnerable part of the Transkei coast.
The Eastern Cape's Dwesa-Cwebe lies between East London and Port St Johns, divided into Cwebe to the east, and Dwesa to the south-west of the Mbashe River. The Marine Protected Area stretches 14 km along the length of the two reserves, three to five kilometres inland, and six nautical miles out to sea.
The beauty of this windswept, remote part of the coastline is the varied landscape – sweeping grasslands, lush coastal forest, and river estuaries. Hiking trails in the area head along the coast across river mouths, the birdlife some of the best in the country. This is photo moments in the making type scenery.
After being forcibly removed under apartheid, the community of Dwesa-Cwebe forest regained their land in a land restitution case, although to conserve the area, access was restricted. The reserve is owned by the Dwesa-Cwebe Land Trust, a communal organisation representing the Ntubeni, Mpume, Nogoma, Lurwayizo, Mendwane, Hobeni and Cwebe people from eight communal villages around the reserve.
The community, unhappy that their fishing and forestry practices had been restricted, demanded access rights to fish in the no take marine protected area. As a result the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) published a notice withdrawing the regulations of Dwesa-Cwebe marine protected area established in 2003.
As of November 2015 new regulations govern the MPA. There are now three controlled fishing zones, provided those fishing can produce a small-scale or recreational fishing permit from DAFF (Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries). Three restricted zones exist as well, where a no fishing policy applies, to protect vital estuaries in the Marine Protected Area.