Investment could rapidly replenish sea life

THE Border Deep Sea Angling Association have been pioneers in establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPA's) along the Wild Coast area and are an example of how angling associations should protect their areas for future generations.

It is common knowledge that fish stocks are declining globally and this strengthens the need to effect change through effective management of resources.

The "be the change you want to see" approach they have undertaken has, over the past 40 years, shown that these policies have made a difference.

These MPA's create an overflow which replenishes the surroundings. Last weekend, at my hunting club's monthly meeting, we were addressed by a researcher who has been studying the warthog population explosion of the Eastern Cape and the knock-on negative effect (habitat destruction) it has had.

Hunting ethics of only shooting selected animals and leaving the breeding stock to continue have shown that management principles play a great role, and every species is different with no set grounds to apply hard and fast rules.

With fish, stocks have dwindled as anglers have targeted juveniles above mature fish as they are easier to catch.

Voluntary compliance has failed to protect juvenile fish, especially from exploitation through a lack of personal commitment.

The end result is that we have seen fish stocks dwindle to critical levels.

But back to the warthogs.

Warthogs were introduced to the province only about 30 years ago and now have bred to endemic proportions. This is a result of not exploiting them, (they have proven to be exploitable) or else the management plan for these animals was not well thought-out.

Here is some food for thought. A warthog sow has four piglets that usually reach maturity as they are given a chance (she often surrogates for other sows that orphan young), and natural predators have been reduced significantly. One sow can produce around 250 piglets in her life.

A single fish spawns a thousand eggs at a time, and lives in excess of that of a warthog in years, all being equal.

If only 10% of those eggs hatch we should have growing fish stocks in only one season, however that is not the case. The reality is we remove juvenile fish that have not spawned, and in doing so stop a thousand hatchlings in their tracks.

This is the very reason why fish stocks are on the rapid decline.

Aquaculture can provide the food security we so badly need on this planet, and with aquaculture a forced release of a percentage of the stock can aid this recovery.

However, this is expensive and investment and red tape obstruct such undertakings.

An encouraging sight was that of many chases I observed while on the Swartkops the other day.

The garrick and skipjack are ever present and offer exciting prospects for those who angle for the pleasure of a good fight with light tackle.

Unfortunately skipjack don't handle the stress of a long fight and are vulnerable.

They are also very bony and not really table fish.

- Reel Time, with Wayne Rudman