Environment bears brunt

“GOOD people don’t need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws” – Plato (427-347 BC).

Nothing has changed since then! Criminal capacity is highly developed in South Africa today.

Our justice system also protects the wrong people essentially in the pursuance of justice and basic human rights. Our natural resources suffer heavily here as their violations are not seen as violent crimes and therefore not many resources are allocated for intervention. Exploitation is a slow process and that impact is only seen years later.

It was mentioned to me, in conversation with a regular angler, that the sardines are scarce and a local bait distributor now has to import bait as our local supply along our coast has dried up.

These schools of fish are so important for our local biodiversity. The squid industry appears to be suffering to find quality and quantity to remain profitable and thermo clines are blamed for these phenomena. Thermo clines are huge temperature differences between surface water and the depths below. Last year we experienced similar conditions on the Gamtoos coastal zone when cold water trapped schools of grunter in the warm shallows resulting in huge mortalities as the tide changed.

A local whale-watching enterprise has come across many sea birds that have died with strange wounds to the back of their heads and it is believed that the deep sea line fishing sector is possibly to blame for this. It is suspected that these fish are now preying on line-caught fish as they are being landed. The lack of available bait fish has most probably caused this diversion and conflict of interest.

The practice of killing these birds must be halted and fast. Thousands of birds are killed annually by long lines alone. However, education in the handling of hooked birds needs to be undertaken.

Jimmy and Mike the two “swaars” were fishing up the beach near Woody Cape with their old “Landy” in the days when we could still drive on the beach.

Mike, who was clearly the better fisherman, recalled the time when he caught a cob that big. He gestured with his hands about two meters long! Jimmy not wanting to be left without a “chirp” said: “Ag that’s nothing, swaar, I remember catching a great white and you know what, it had a lantern inside and you know what it was still burning!”

Jimmy looked at Mike with the look that he was exaggerating and insinuated that Mike was too. Mike said calmly: “Ja nee swaar, you blow that lantern out and I make my fish smaller.”

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