ICZM Project – Grand Baie Version 1
This report details how to overcome the limitations to Grand Baie becoming an internationally recognised centre for sea-based recreational activities. The key to the plan is to construct a pedestrian link along its southern edge. By implementing this according to the principles of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, a sustainable and environmentally sound development is proposed which addresses the needs of all stakeholders.
Grand Baie has significant potential as a venue for sustainable recreational activities for tourists and the local population. Such activities include:
- Scuba training
- Ecological monitoring
- Ecological enhancement
It can also be a base for (and to a limited extent already is)
- Coastal yachting
- Coastal scuba diving
- Tag and release big game fishing
- Cetacean watching
Such activities are currently limited due to the following factors:
- Poor water quality in the bay
- Poor public beach quality (in comparison, for example to be beach at le Mauricia)
- Limited access to the coast line
- Difficulty in traversing the coast line
- Much of the coast line is rocky making access to the sea difficult
- Extensive use of the bay for mooring boats
- Danger for beginners (sailors) due to size of the bay and the rocky sections of the shoreline
While it is beyond the scope of this report to comprehensively address water quality, some recommendations can be made:
- Terminate all the release of effluents into the bay from dwellings and pleasure craft discharges
- Re-introduce wetlands to:
- remove toxic materials and excessive nutrients
- slow flood surges
- absorb and retain dissolved chemical nutrients
- enhance flora and fauna
- Connect all buildings to the waste water treatment system
- Remove all high impact threats around the bay (such as the filling station)
- Minimise the use of motorised craft using petroleum fuels
- Prohibit motorised craft with highly polluting engines (e.g. 2-stroke petrol engines)
Equally it is beyond the scope of this report to address beach management, however, the following recommendations can be made:
- Implement a beach management strategy, including:
- sand introduction with appropriate retaining devices
- landscaping with beach stabilising flora
- Prevent erosion by creating artificial reefs and enforcing speed limits for pleasure craft.
Overcoming the limitations
The other limits to increasingly realise the full potential of Grand Baie can be addressed by implementing the relatively inexpensive, integrated plan detailed below.
The centre piece of the plan is to create an elevated boardwalk along the southern edge of Grand Baie. This will create a pedestrian link between the Grand Baie Business Park and the Sunset Complex. In addition it will catalyse development along that length of coast.
In order to future-proof the boardwalk, it will be constructed at such a height that it will remain well above sea level despite the rise due to global warming (1 to 2m) and resistant to storm surges caused by increasingly powerful cyclones (an additional 1 to 6m, depending on storm intensity), predicted for the next hundred years. This means that at the present height of seawater, it will allow easy access the sea underneath the boardwalk. Further, it will be constructed over the water so that it does not affect current land use. Steps from the land will lead up to the boardwalk and be positioned at each access point to the main coastal road.
The boardwalk will follow the coast from le Capitain restaurant until the headland about 500m from the Coastguard station. This edge of the bay has high value because of the sandy beach which would be degraded by any construction. Hence, the boardwalk will leave the coast at this point and cut across the bay until it reaches the jetty of the Sunset complex.
At appropriate places along the length of the boardwalk, where it does not interfere with other water based activities, fishing platforms will be added. This will allow shore-based fishermen to practise their hobby without having to enter the water, disturb beach users or negotiate rocky shores.
In alignment with Mauritius’ commitment to the “Ile durable” concept, the boardwalk will be constructed with as much recycled material as possible, with minimum energy expenditure and with the lowest maintenance costs in mind. Options that will be considered are:
- Using recycled wood effect plastic, bulked with renewable materials, for the deck and railings.
- Using recycled glass as aggregated in concrete.
- Replacing some cement in the concrete with fly ash.
- Using self-contained lighting pods that are solar and/or wind powered.
Youth sailing school
As the boardwalk passes over the sea it will bisect the bay creating a smaller sheltered zone that will be used as a sailing school. As it will be surrounded on all sides, it will be safe for the youngest children to learn how to sail dinghies and windsurfers. A deck can be constructed over the rocks at the western edge of this zone to prevent damage to boats and provide embarkation facilities. Along the landward side of the boardwalk, buffer bars will be installed to prevent the dinghies escaping to the open sea and colliding with the supports. Appropriate gaps would be included to permit egress and ingress of Coastguard vessels.
International sailing centre
On the seaward side of the boardwalk, floating jetties will be installed that will be used for the embarkation of intermediate and advanced mono-hull and multi-hull sailing dinghies. They will be able to access the rest of the bay and open seas via the main pass out of Grand Baie. The topography and wind catchment of the bay is such that it could easily become a world renowned centre for sail training and racing. Local hotels could differentiate themselves from ones in other parts of the island by exploiting this and remove the need to provide motorised watersports.
Moorings for pleasure craft
In order to clear the bay of moored pleasure craft it is necessary to provide alternatives. By placing floating jetties along the boardwalk starting at the Sunset jetty, many boats can be accommodated. This can be supplemented as necessary with finger jetties that could be owned, paid for and maintained by the companies that provide tourist excursions by boat.
Boat launch and repair facilities
At present boats are launched and repaired on the public sandy beaches in the centre of Grand Baie and near the Coastguard centre. This causes significant degradation to the quality of the beaches. Hence, it is proposed to construct a boat launch area with ramps and repair facilities at the rocky public “beach” found along X-Club road. Facilities will conclude water and electrical supplies and waste disposal.
Next to the jetty of the Sunset complex it is proposed to install a deck that can be raised as necessary to compensate for rising sea levels. This could be used in the same way as the arena in front of Labourdonnais Hotel at le Caudan. It would then provide a focus for cultural performances and exhibitions.
To further improve water quality in the bay it is possible to redirect run-off drains under the deck into a natural water treatment plant. This could contain, for example calcium carbonate and charcoal along with living environments for organisms that consume detritus. Along the seawater edge of the deck, if it is not to be used as additional mooring space, it is possible to plant mangroves. Special receptacles can be used to stabilise their root systems.
Fish landing station
It is important to move fish landing station away from its current location in front of the sandy public beach. While it is understood that there are some objections to placing it in front of the Hindu temple, these can easily be overcome by placing a modern, refrigerated fish market and a fresh fish restaurant between the landing station and the temple to act as a screen.
In the same area jetties can be installed for mooring fishing boats along with a ramp to enable them to be launched easily. This same ramp can be used to remove the the fishing boats and dinghies from the sailing centre from the water in the event of a cyclone. Any remaining fishing boats can be placed on the public beach and the landscaping designed to accommodate this.
Optional developments can be added to further increase Grand Baie’s contribution to the island’s reputation and to the Mauritian economy
As the water quality and hence visibility within the bay improves, it will be possible to conduct safe, recreational scuba dives within its confines. This is considerably safer for beginners than venturing into open sea. This can be enhanced by installing diving platforms at appropriate locations in the bay with artificial reefs beneath them. It is understood that such arrangements would be the first of there kind in the world and hence would gain international recognition.
New Coastguard station
The current location of the Coastguard station is not ideal since there is no line-of-sight to the end of the bay with the Kapu Kai complex. While this is overcome by the outpost at la Cuvette, there is often insufficient manpower to provide adequate surveillance. It would be better to relocate the station to a place where the whole bay is visible, the best location for this is adjacent to the yacht club. The only point that is out of line-of-sight would then be la Cuvette. A tower would overcome this or that beach could be monitored by the current outpost.
The Kapu Kai complex is an outstanding location for installing a marina in Grand Baie. While it is understood that recent analyses have shown this not to be financially viable using current assumptions, as the bay’s reputation improves because of the international standard sailing club, it is expected that more foreign yachts will consider visiting. Obviously the attraction of the marina will improved by the easy access via the boardwalk to and from the commercial centre of Grand Baie.
The marina could also form the focus of a coastal waters yacht training centre encouraging locals and tourists to learn the skills of off-shore sailing. This would then catalyse the industry of yacht charters around the whole island creating a whole new sector of the tourist industry in Mauritius.
By enclosing the Marina within storm proof sea walls, it would become a sanctuary for local boats in the event of cyclones. A small charge could be made to those who use this facility as they gain significantly from not having to take their boats to Port Louis.
Grand Baie can be significantly enhanced as a recreational centre for locals and tourists by the construction of an elevated boardwalk with associated infrastructure and developments. This will improve the viability of an international marina in the bay.
This report was produced by the NGO WeLuvMu (www.welovemauritius.org). While extensive consultations have been undertaken with local stakeholders whose number make it impossible to list here, one individual deserves special recognition. Eugene Vitry has been involved since the inception of this project and his input, especially his willingness to supplement his insightful, constructive criticism with environmentally sound solutions, has been invaluable.
Isometric View North
Isometric View East
Isometric View W
© November 2008, Dr R L Munisamy. All rights reserved.