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UNSAFE WATERS: Pollution in the Swartkops River, including dangerous heavy metals from nearby factories, has turned it into a health hazard
UNSAFE WATERS: Pollution in the Swartkops River, including dangerous heavy metals from nearby factories, has turned it into a health hazard

AS AN estuarine angler, I have the immediate choice of four estuaries to fish in and they are no more than an hour’s drive from my home. The same goes for my hunting passion. Here in the Eastern Cape, the surrounds of Port Elizabeth, we are so privileged as we live in the hunting and fishing paradise of the world.

The Swartkops, which remains the river of choice is the closest but unfortunately is also polluted.

It is amazing to see how it has stood up to all this pressure and yet survives and is seemingly productive.

This would not be the case should the river not get its daily flush of sea water. A toxicology study of the Swartkops has now become common knowledge and the results are simply shocking.

The consumption of fish from this river should be avoided at all costs as harmful heavy metals are present in the flesh of these fish and over time will cause many health complications.

Samples taken from live fish have proven their toxic levels are higher than that which is considered safe for human consumption. There is no detoxing of these metals either as they accumulate in the body and eventually it is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Heavy metals such as cadmium and lead causes flu-like symptoms with a sore throat, coughing, joint pain and diarrhoea. Eventually liver and kidney disease take hold.

Stricter measures need to be implemented to prevent industry from discharging these pollutants into the estuary by way of leaks from holding tanks, that allow stormwater to ferry them into the river system.

Some cases may also be deliberate actions where dumping directly into the stormwater canals takes place because of insufficient monitoring.

The Kromme River is still my favourite as it seldom disappoints and this I believe is because the system is actually an arm of the sea.

The fact that very little freshwater enters the Kromme allows species to frequent there that will not enter the other estuaries.

One of its primary bait species is the ink fish or “chummy”, which are not fresh-water tolerant so they are in abundance in the Kromme. The Sundays and Gamtoos rivers are much the same, as they are fed with water from the agricultural irrigation schemes overflow.

These are essentially cob rivers as these fish are tolerant to freshwater, where they venture far in to the saline-free environment.

This was established with the Telemetry study conducted there a few years back. Transponders were surgically inserted into cob that were caught and released.

Their movements were monitored by listening stations strategically placed all the way up the Sundays and along our coast. Invaluable data has and is still collected about the movement of these fish. – Reel Time, with Wayne Rudman


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