Knysna’s Buffalo Bay Blue Flag status is claimed to be under threat after an argument between local surfers and the Buffalo Bay Ski Club. A letter of complaint has been sent to Mayor Eleonore Spies.
Among other issues, it’s alleged that members of the fishing club have been launching through the public area and have been intoxicated whilst driving dangerously near bathers. The full letter can be read here.
Included in the conflict is approximately 20 parking bays being chained off for use by the club. Considering how jam-packed the area becomes during season, the surfers want to know why such a big area is been used by a few against the needs of the majority. They claim that the reserved parking is mostly occupied by only two boats, one owned by Lawrence (surname unknown), the Chairperson of the Buffalo Bay Ski Club.
The club apparently claims to have a lease with the Knysna Municipality but the latter was unwilling to confirm such. Other queries were also denied by Fran Kirsten, the contracted manager of the Communications Department.
The matter escalated into the rumour that the Buffalo Bay Blue Flag status would be removed within 24hrs. But this writer has confirmed that’s a rumour gone wild in a small town.
Vincent Shacks is the Ecotourism Unit Manager for WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) and, consequently, responsible for the Blue Flag programme. Shacks said that there’s procedure to follow. He’s aware of the complaint against the ski club and has sent a query to the Knysna Municipality. He can only decide if action is needed once they’ve responded and an inspector has visited the location.
The Buffalo Bay Ski Club strangely has no contact number online but a helpful local business provided a cell number for Lawrence.
He denies the statements by the complainants. He said that it’s really an issue of personalities, not facts. He says that the slip, the path for the boats to the beach, is clearly demarcated outside the Blue Flag area. He offered to give me an update after a meeting regarding the matter at 3pm, yesterday. He has yet to return to me.
Knysna Municipality is greatly reliant on tourism so it’s natural that the Blue Flag has been waved as a victory. Why didn’t Mayor Eleonore Spies defuse the situation before the holiday season arrived?