Coastal Green Scorpion Blitz

Garden Route – A Green Scorpion Blitz of the Eden coast and estuaries took place last week in a combined and collaborative effort between the National Department of Environmental Affairs, the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, the National Department of Forestry and Fisheries, SANParks, Eden District Municipality, CapeNature and the South African Police Department.

Blitz Organising Team with Captain Truter
Blitz Organising Team with Captain Truter

The undercover operation involved over 200 individuals representing various organisations. Due to the plethora of environmental legislation which includes the National Environmental Management Act 1998, (NEMA), the Integrated Coastal Management Act 24 (2008), the National Estuary Management Protocol (2014) (NEMP), the Marine Living Resources Act and many more, there are a number of activities which are illegal.

Patrolling the Mossel Bay Harbour
Patrolling the Mossel Bay Harbour

These activities includes fishing without permits, pollution of rivers and estuaries, illegal developments, boat based whale watching operators without permits, illegal collection of buying and selling bait, illegal oyster harvesting and compliance monitoring of fish factories, are examples of the many transgressions. Under the capable organisation of Captain Truter of SAPS, briefing and de-briefing sessions each morning allocated police officers to various Green Scorpions in order to accompany them on the compliance enforcement exercise.

The area covered extends from the Groot River Estuary in the East, to the Breede River in the West. It is confirmed that the teams did encounter transgressions and fines were issued and individuals arrested for various environmental transgressions. Green Scorpion for Eden District Municipality, Mr Vernon Gibbs-Halls had the following comment to make: “This cooperative and collaborative effort towards this exercise was a true reflection of environmental law in practice and enjoyed huge successes in environmental enforcement. South Africa has the best environmental legislation in the world and seeing this being enforced is always positive to ensuring the protection of our natural resources”.

In terms of NEMA’s Section 31B and C, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and MECs are empowered to designate EMIs (Environmental Management Inspectors – Green Scorpion). The Minister and MECs can delegate this power to designated EMIs, as has already happened in the Eden District Municipality and Western Cape (to the Head of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning).

To be eligible for EMI (Green Scorpion) designation, an official (only officials may be designated) must complete “any relevant training course approved by the Director-General”.

In terms of Section 31F of NEMA, an EMI must, whenever exercising any powers or performing any duties under NEMA or a SEMA, on demand by a member of the public, provide his/her EMI ID Card as well as his/her Letter of Designation.

For more information, contact: 

Mr Vernon Gibbs-Halls – Environmental Specialist Biodiversity and Coastal Management

Tel:  (w) 044-803 1529 /

Ms Melanie Wilson – Manager:  Strategic Services

Tel: (w) 044-803 1357 /

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