Beach angling ban has fishermen up in arms

No angling is allowed in the Bay from the harbour wall to First Beacon
Picture: Fredlin Adriaan

It sounds a bit like a fisherman’s tale – a “No Angling” sign noticed on a Port Elizabeth beach this week which has riled anglers even though it is meant to be there.

It does appear, though, to represent a clampdown on any fishing at the city’s bathing beaches – a ban which no one seems to have taken much notice of.

Despite the ban having been in place for some years, all it took was images of the “No Angling” sign at one of the city’s most popular rock angling spots at Pollok Beach to be posted on social media for many fishermen to take the bait.

The sign is erected on the beach outside the Something Good restaurant – but a quick visit of the shoreline all the way from Kings Beach to The Beacon shows that it is the only one, near a spot called Avalanche.

Municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said the sign had, in fact, been there for some time, but it was constantly being vandalised.

He said angling was strictly prohibited in all areas specified for bathing.

“It poses a risk to bathers as anglers leave their bait and hooks in the water and in the sand dunes,” he said. Reel Deal Angling Club acting chairman Brent Nazer said he was disappointed about the ban, which was out of character especially for a DA-led municipality.

“We were not even consulted,” he said.

“We are left with very few safe angling spots.

“It is safe for guys in those areas.”

He said areas such as the former St George’s Strand and Wells Estate were no longer safe.

“Guys don’t go there anymore – they have been robbed, had their cars stolen and have even been shot at.”

Nazer, who has been angling for the past 36 years, said he did not agree that surf anglers attracted sharks.

“Sometimes anglers do catch sharks, but they are there because of the natural systems in place,” he said. “Sharks usually hunt live bait.” He said the municipality needed to consult with the public on the matter as he felt public opinion would be against the ban on angling.

PE Deep Sea Angling Club chairman Richard Donaldson said although the ban did not affect the club as it did not cater for rock and surf anglers, he found the ban unnecessary.

“They [the municipality] claim that anglers leave a lot of bait and tackle in the water which attracts sharks and will, in turn, affect the Blue Flag status of some of our beaches, which is total [nonsense],” he said.

Seasoned fisherman Shaheed Sathar, 30, from Uitenhage, said he really enjoyed fishing at Pollok Beach.

“I have been fishing here for at least 10 years,” he said.

“It’s such a nice spot, not only for me, but also to bring your family for a day out. I feel it is a safe area.”

Sathar said the ban was bad for fishermen as they caught some big fish at that spot. A Pretoria fisherman, holidaying in the city with his family, said he did not think the ban was a good idea, “especially for avid fishermen and also for holiday-makers coming here for the sole purpose of fishing”.

The man, who did not want to be named, said he threw all of the fish he caught back into the water.

Mniki said some anglers were using alternative coastal areas.

Asked why only Pollok Beach had the signage displayed, he said: “They [other signs] might have been vandalised – new ones will be erected.”

Mniki said the ban had been in place for a number of years and although transgressors had been caught and warned, they continued to fish.

Asked if the ban was a result of the Blue Flag status that some Port Elizabeth beaches had acquired, Mniki said there were a number of standards that needed to be upheld to maintain a beach’s Blue Flag status, such as environmental and security standards.

Transgressors would be dealt with by the metro police.

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