R5-m fine for… catching a fish?

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AND if the Department of Environmental Affairs has its way,  the new laws could be in effect within months.

The  Mid South Coast Mail published a summary of the draft notices and regulations recently, announcing plans for a network of 22 new marine protected areas.

However, the newspaper only recently had sight of the small print from someone who has knowledge of the full plan and it has now become clear that recreational and subsistence fishermen will be affected as well.

These plans are not limited to the ocean itself, but are to include  coastal shores from Lovu all the way down to Mzimayi.

“No person shall undertake recreational fishing in the Aliwal Shoal Controlled Zone and/or the Aliwal Shoal Controlled-Pelagic Zone (Lovu to Mzimayi) in the period between 5pm and 6am of the following day,” stated the document, headed ‘Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area Regulations’, and listing the proposed rules and regulations as published in the Government Gazette on February 3, 2016.

Absolutely no fishing or collecting any forms of marine life will be allowed to take place in any of the Aliwal Shoal Offshore Restricted Zones, the Aliwal Shoal Inshore Sanctuary Zones and/or the Aliwal Shoal Inshore Restricted Zones. This includes the angling spots known as Cane Siding, Hayes Rock, Green Point and Mamba Alley.

It is also important to mention ‘fishing’ is defined by the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area Regulations as:

  • Searching for, catching, taking or harvesting fish or an attempt to any such activity;
  • engaging in any other activity which can reasonably be expected to result in the locating, catching, taking or harvesting of fish;
  • placing, searching for or recovering any fish aggregating device or associated gear, including radio beacons;
  • any operation in support or in preparation of any activity described in this definition; or
  • the use of an aircraft in relation to any activity described in this definition.

One of the ‘no fishing allowed’ zones runs from Black Rock towards the Mahlongwana River.

Transgressors who disregard the rules and regulations could be faced with fines of up to R5-million or imprisonment not exceeding five years and, in the event of a second conviction or a subsequent conviction, a fine not exceeding R10-million rand or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years.

A public notice was published in the Sunday Tribune, but it is doubtful many local fishermen would ever have seen it. Now many are questioning whether the department already saw this as a fait accompli.

“This is absolute rubbish! I have to work until 6pm and I earn just enough to cover rent, water and lights, fuel and what not. “This (fishing) is how I put food on the table for my children. They do not have a mother – they only have me,” said Umkomaas fisherman, Sam Naidoo.

Another man, who chose not to reveal his identity, said: “Ezemvelo cannot even do a good enough job in curbing the current illegal fishing going on in the area. Are you telling me that I am going to be prosecuted if I am fishing past 5pm? They will have to start doing their jobs first.”

The National Department of Environmental Affairs has invited the public to voice their concerns in regards to the area specific marine protected area – Aliwal Shoal.

The consultation workshop will be held at the Italian Club in Umkomaas on Monday, April 4 between 2pm and 5pm.


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