Illegal bait harvesters destroying system

PLUNDER: It is a sad state of affairs at Gamtoos, with some people illegally using spades to dig for bait, and with little interest shown by the powers that be. This needs to be investigated
PLUNDER: It is a sad state of affairs at Gamtoos, with some people illegally using spades to dig for bait, and with little interest shown by the powers that be. This needs to be investigated

I WAS recently sent photographs by Cal Seaton-Smith, who needs no introduction to The Herald readers. Suddenly the Gamtoos has been plundered by illegal bait harvesters who have taken to forks and spades that are only allowed at the Swartkops.

This should have been reviewed long ago as it has been proved to be unsustainable as a means to harvest bait.

The same is happening in Knysna, I am told. Gamtoos is an unspoilt, meandering river that till now has only had pressure from angling and has sustained itself remarkably well.

However, this new trend will destroy this system in a matter of months at this rate.

The Gamtoos has the reputation of producing those giant cobs that every angler dreams about and the absence of mud prawn in time, to come will impact heavily on the fish that these monsters frequent the estuary to feed on.

It seems plundering of our natural resources has become a trend.

The demand for fish over Easter has seen a spike in illegal netting in almost all the region’s estuaries and organised by syndicates that are well-equipped to execute their deeds undetected by counter surveillance, and under the cover of darkness.

The public is crucial in combating all forms of poaching and without this information little success is achieved.

The coastline is too vast and remote areas such as Gamtoos are neglected as a result.

The fisheries section of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has an honorary marine conservation officers’ programme with people with vast skills but sadly that too has not been properly embraced to help combat illegal activities.

A better- thought-out plan needs to be implemented to use all available personnel in the field and to cover as much of the coast and intertidal zones as possible.

A very small budget (no remuneration) is required to mobilise these folk and surely results will speak for themselves.

Of late, numerous violations of the protected Bird Island MPA area by recreational boat anglers and abalone poachers have been recorded. The few prosecutions to date are only the tip of the iceberg in what is actually happening in this marine sanctuary.

I was pleased to see law enforcement officials present at the Kromme over the Easter weekend, considering that the festive season resulted in utter chaos, where serious injuries and loss of property occurred.

This has been welcomed by many whom I have spoken to, as it seems the holidaymakers have alienated the permanent residents of the Kromme and surrounds. Unfortunately these seasonal trends have created a very selfish approach to the use of craft on these waters.

I applaud those officials who have taken on the task to restore order at the Kromme. – Reel Time, with Wayne Rudman

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