Overstrand Municipality’s Environmental Management Services Department, in partnership with Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT), fitted the first storm-water filter sock in Gansbaai last week to trap plastic litter and other debris that wash into the system after a rainstorm.

The first ‘catch’ of the debris collected in Gansbaai Harbour. PHOTOS: Hennie Otto, Marine Dynamics

The sock, which is 4 – 5 metres long and made of net, is placed over the outlet to capture up to 50 kg of litter before it ends up in our oceans. The municipality and the DICT team will be monitoring the sock and its contents over the coming months and, if successful, it will be used in the wider municipal area where there are hotspots.

Inspired by a similar project in Australia, Wilfred Chivell of Marine Dynamics Tours and founder of the DICT, realised the need for a net system over the storm-water drain outlet in Gansbaai Harbour, an area notorious for plastic pollution and a prime spot to test the efficacy of this innovation. The first net design was sponsored by Marine Dynamics and installed on 8 June, but after a rainstorm the oyster net tore due to a design flaw.

Wilfred and project leaders Hennie Otto (Marine Dynamics) and Benjamin Kondokter (Overstrand Municipality) then approached Ian Wessels of Wildegans Fishery who kindly donated the sardine purse seine net and stitching work required. The new, stronger net sock was fitted on Plastic Bag Free Day, 3 July. The nets are designed to prevent pollutants and solid waste, carried by storm water from the local road network, from flowing into the marine environment.

Environmental Officer Benjamin Kondokter with the assistance of DICT and other municipal workers busy placing the sock over the storm water pipeline outlet.

“The storm-water drain outlet in Gansbaai Harbour leads straight to nearby rock pools and into the ocean,” says Wilfred. “The kelp that traps some of the waste makes it difficult to clean and this, too, is ultimately washed out to sea. We have been doing clean-ups for 20 years and found that 80% of the waste is plastic.

“Dyer Island Conservation Trust is the first port of call for marine animal rescues and strandings in the Gansbaai area and we have witnessed first-hand the impact on our marine wildlife. We hope that through this project we can minimise this impact by reducing the amount of waste entering the marine system. Unfortunately, most of the waste will probably not be suitable for recycling, but we will do this where possible. This is a worldwide problem and our dream is to roll this project out in the Overstrand and in South Africa.”

The municipality said in a statement that this innovation could hopefully provide a simple solution to help prevent the rubbish discarded by humans from spoiling our river systems and the ocean.

With 63 storm-water outlets in Gansbaai alone, this project will be a long-term collaborative effort between DICT, Marine Dynamics and Overstrand Municipality, with an initial focus on the most problematic areas. In order to cover the costs in manufacture and ongoing management, Marine Dynamics and DICT have made applications for grant funding.

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