Very Important message from Estuary Care:
One of the consequences of the Covid Lockdown and resulting unemployment crisis has been a significant escalation in the number of subsistence fisherman using both the Boesmans and Kariega Estuaries on a daily basis. One can fully understand how this has happened and cannot begrudge the folk who are trying to put food on the table for their households.
An unfortunate by product of this activity has been the emergence of an informal bait selling trade which is now very visible in both the Boesmans and Kenton villages. These sellers go early in the morning to the prawn banks, harvest much more than is the allowable limit and can be seen in the villages selling around the busy areas. As their business grows the demand for volume is causing them to use spades and garden forks rather than the allowable prawn pumps to harvest and they are causing significant damage to the prawn banks on the mud flats. One needs only to go to the prawn banks to witness the damage that is being done.
Like many things in nature these prawn banks rely on balance for their existence. Prawns collected in moderation allow the cycle of regeneration to keep pace with the harvesting and continuity is ensured. This in turn feeds into the greater life cycle of the Estuaries regarding fish varieties and stocks present. Heavy extraction is taking place at the moment, which breaks this balance and the long-term certainty is that the prawn banks will disappear. This then becomes everybody’s loss – subsistence and recreational fishermen alike.
These informal vendors exist because there are willing buyers to support them. It is not just a few delinquent individuals who are supporting these vendors. In both Communities people who should know better have been witnessed buying bait from them. It is obviously easier to get your bait supply this way rather than collecting with a prawn pump which is hard work and therefore ensures moderate collection. That however is the point. Moderate collection ensures long term sustainability of the prawn banks.
Our call is for members of the community to stop buying from these vendors and for those who do not buy to express their displeasure to those that are buying. We all have a responsibility to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Estuaries in order to leave a legacy for the next generation and this is one way you can make a contribution.