(This article originally appeared in The Village News on 20 November 2020).
Designated areas known as ‘dog zones’ are set to be introduced early next year on three Overstrand beaches for a trial period of six months.
This initiative from the Executive Mayor Dudley Coetzee, who asked Dr Mark Brown of the Nature’s Valley Trust for assistance with a pilot study on the impact of dogs on our various beaches, will be welcomed by dog owners in the Overstrand. Members of the Trust have implemented such a system very effectively at several beaches along the Garden Route.
Overstrand Municipality is to introduce three zones: red, yellow and green, starting at three beaches: Pearly Beach, Grotto and Kleinmond Main Beach.
The red zones will be where dogs are not allowed, the yellow zones will require owners to keep dogs on leads and the green areas are where dogs can be let off leashes, but must be kept under control.
The red zones will be specifically for the protection of the nests of African Black Oystercatchers and White-fronted Plovers breeding and raising their chicks on the beaches and rocky shores. Warning signs regarding these breeding activities will be rolled out by members of BirdLife Overberg, in collaboration with the municipality and the Nature’s Valley Trust.
The first round of discussions with relevant stakeholders started last week, and a public workshop will be held during the middle to the end of January 2020 to introduce the concept. According to the municipality, more information will follow later.
The final proposal will be open for public comment for a month before it is taken to council for consideration.
In the meantime, residents and visitors should remember that for the coming December holiday period, the following still applies: All dogs must be kept on a leash. Section 6 (2) and (3) of the by-law on dogs and cats are clear, both in contextual and literal interpretation: “No person may or cause to allow any dog to be in a public place unless it is kept on a leash.”
Note that public spaces include any beach, road, path, bridge, footpath or garden, and any other place under the control of the municipality.
Dog owners making use of Overstrand’s beaches that earned Blue Flag status – Grotto, Hawston, Castle Beach and Kleinmond – must respect the stipulation that no dogs will be allowed on these beaches whilst the Blue Flag is flying.
Pet owners are also requested not to bury dog poop in the sand or throw it out to sea. They are required to clean up after their dogs and to dispose of poop bags in the correct bins.
Rob Fryer of Whale Coast Conservation welcomed the plan. “Although we would be in favour of dog-free beaches, this is an innovative plan and we look forward to hearing what the feedback is after the 6-month trial period.”
Example of dog zoning poster at Sedgefield
Dr Mark Brown of the Nature's Valley Trust deserves most of the credit for this innovative work