Bay’s special eco-warrior

Thando Ndabezitha

LOVED by many – but loathed by those who see his work as a drain on their livelihood – environmentalist Wayne Rudman lives what he preaches. So says George Whitehead, the man who nominated Rudman for the 2012 The Herald GM Citizen of the Year.

Chosen last week as one of the 12 finalists in the annual competition Rudman has been lauded for the work he does to reduce illegal bait harvesting and drag netting on the Swartkops Estuary.

Whitehead, who has known Rudman for almost 30 years, said his nomination was based on the tremendous voluntary work Rudman does to save valuable natural resources.

Speaking about the work he does Rudman said: “We have a viable estuary but we need to take care of it. A lot of people love it, but they are loving it to death by exploiting bait resources and over-fishing.”

The honorary conservation officer describes his work of encouraging voluntary compliance to sustainable harvesting in the Swartkops Estuary and adjacent coastal zone as challenging because he is loved by many, but loathed by others.

“Some people are abusive as they see you as someone who is taking away their livelihoods,” he said.

For almost four years the automotive engineer by profession has volunteered his time to enforce bait quotas and extraction methods.

His work also aims to regulate the wearing of day-glo vests and the setting up of controlled sales points in the estuary.

Rudman’s emphasis on sustainability is not just on the environment but also on the economic livelihoods of the local fishermen.

One of the sustainable ideas he suggested to a local court prosecutor and magistrate was to give offenders community service rather than a fine or imprisonment.

He believes community service is a far more rehabilitative sentence than a jail term which could turn offenders into hardened criminals. It also has the added long-term benefit of becoming an alternative means of employment, he said.

This, because offenders do the much-needed work of picking up litter – which threatens marine life along the coastline – every Saturday for a six-month period.

Whitehead describes Rudman as a man who lives what he preaches.

“He fishes and hunts sustainability and even teaches his 13-year-old son the same values,” Whitehead said.

Rudman’s own fishing philosophy is to “catch and release”, participating more for competition purposes than making it a “blood sport”, where he catches a fish, kills it and eats it.

Zwartkops Conservancy member and former Herald GM Citizen of the Year Jenny Rump described Rudman as “someone who goes beyond the call of duty”.

She said his work was sometimes dangerous – requiring him to work at night and in the early morning on the estuary to catch gill-net fishermen.

“He is trying to stop illegal bait diggers, but also trying to get the legal ones to toe the line.”

Mike Spearpoint said: “I started working with him [Rudman] through the honorary marine ranger project. I have a great amount of respect for him. He is very dedicated.”

The Herald apologises for erroneously leaving Yusuf Logart off the list of the top 12 The Herald GM Citizen of the Years finalists on Friday.

Logart – involved in projects ranging from soup kitchens to tunnel harvesting and disaster management – has been contributing to the upliftment of Northern Areas communities for many years.

  • One of the judges, Michael Barry, was incorrectly named as being employed by Business and Arts SA (Basa). Barry is in fact currently head of arts and culture at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and is a previous employee of Basa.

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