From L to R Alan Barrow, Andile Maki, Dave Curran, Ted Gilfillan and Graeme Sholto Douglas
Estuary Care has for the last two years been facilitating boat transportation for Rangers from the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). These trips take place on a regular basis on both the Boesmans and Kariega Estuaries. The purpose of the trips has been to ensure a controlling presence regarding the use of fish and bait resources in the two estuaries.
What has been observed during these trips is that the general public’s knowledge of the rules and regulations regarding boats, fishing and bait is often limited and sometimes confused. In order to avoid unnecessary inconvenience, it is thought to be opportune that some of these learnings be shared before folk converge on the area for the holiday season.
The first is that there are very distinct differences in the management of Commercial and Recreational use of these natural resources. This article will focus on the recreational use only but one needs to be aware of the differences if there is any commercial angle to what you do.
One should also be aware that there are multiple authorities that have influence on what happens on our beaches and in our estuaries. We have DAFF (who look after fish and bait resources), the Dept of Environmental Affairs (use of natural resources), Ndlambe Municipality (local regulations) and the South African Police (law and order). Added to this there are Local, Provincial and National structures that could all have a role to play. One would therefore be well advised to establish exactly who you are dealing with should you have an interaction with a person who claims a position of authority.
Some of the lessons learnt from people who use the estuaries for recreational purposes are:
- You need to have a licence to have a craft on the estuary. These are obtainable from the Municipal Offices. If you wish to fish off your boat you must have another licence which allows this. Only one person on the boat needs to have this licence for the boat to be compliant and they are obtainable from the Post Office.
- The permit requirements for angling are more complex than just one simple licence for all activities. Depending on your particular preference and area where you are it is possible to have up to 13 different permits to make sure you are covered. The licences most relevant to the Kariega/Boesmans area are Angling, Spearfishing, Cast/Throw net, Marine Aquarium fishing, Scuba Diving, Mud Crab, Molluscs (includes octopus, squid, worms, mussels, oysters, prawns). Each category requires a separate permit and is obtainable from the Post Office.
- There are size and quantity limits to fish and bait catches that should be known. Claiming ignorance does not get you very far if you are found in possession of illegal catches.
- There are primarily two types of people who collect bait and fish in the Boesmans and Kariega Estuaries. Recreational users who are likely to be many of the folk reading this article and people who fish to feed themselves on a daily basis. These are known as subsistence users and they need to follow a different path in order to get a permit which allows them to fish and collect bait. These permits are issued through a process of interaction the authorities have in the community.
- It is illegal to dig for bait with a spade and one may only use a pump to collect bait on the mud flats. It is also illegal to collect bait after sunset and before sunrise.
- The DAFF personnel see education on the importance of preserving our natural resources as their core purpose. If you are found not to have been as diligent as you should regarding compliance, it is a much better strategy to discuss constructively about how you will ensure you are compliant, rather than adopt a strategy of aggression, insult and bluster to try and work your way out of the matter. Their patience has limits and the fines that can be imposed can be very heavy.
Hopefully these practical lessons will add to you having a most enjoyable holiday while at the same time using the wonderful natural resources offered by the Boesmans and Kariega Estuaries in a responsible manner.
For further information about the boat volunteers program contact Dave Curran at email@example.com
Mr Andile Maki, the DAFF Chief Marine Conservation Inspector presented Certificates of Recognition to the volunteers who were present at an end of year function of the Estuary Care Committee. Unfortunately, some of the volunteers were unable to attend.