Swimming prawn run not sustainable

THE annual swimming prawn run has been on the go since the beginning of the month and the mob are out in full.

The frenzy is unreal and the disregard for the rule of law has also become a norm while the situation lasts.

Night harvesting has become common practice and carries a no admission of guilt fine scenario if apprehended.

The size of these prawn have varied which makes me believe that there are different species (at least two, shrimp and prawn).

The big ones vary between 10 and 15cm in length and are good eating. The shrimp are smaller than mud prawn but are deadly as bait.

The scientists inform me that the scarcity of the swimming prawn in recent years was due to the closure of the St Lucia estuary a few years back.

The lack of annual flooding of fresh water facilitates the ideal conditions for the prawn to thrive in and the volumes of water keep the mouth open to sea.

The prawns spawn on the Tugela Banks and seek refuge in the estuaries from St Lucia down as far as Kromme River. The St Lucia estuary is on its own 50% of the South African estuary water surface area and thus vitally important to the breeding numbers and production of the swimming prawn.

This is seasonal and eventually they migrate back to spawn on the Tugela Banks. It is believed but not proven that this annual migration south is excess stock that overflow out of that ecosystem.

If that is the case then it makes the harvesting of these swimmers far more sustainable. Studies have yet to prove that.

Fishing in general this past period has been down and little of note has been reported.

The easterlies are the cause of this. The clean water produced is ideal for diving which has shown large activity in the abalone poaching sector.

This was a possible industry many years ago much the same as the squid fishing sector that was formalised way back then.

This was all possible had regulations been drawn up before it spiralled out of control.

Protecting the resource by a “slot size” would allow the breeding stock to spawn millions of eggs which would keep the resource viable.

Sadly that is now only a thought which could now never be reality in my opinion. Recently I walked amongst the rocks on Marine Drive and was horrified to see the graveyard of abalone shell scattered all over.

They litter the bushy areas from the high water mark to beyond the tarred road of Marine Drive.

I wonder how long the resource can sustain such destructive pressure.

The sea has so much to offer from recreational activity to legitimate livelihoods. However it is being depleted fast by the quest for the fast, easy buck!

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