minutes for the TWG Fish Meeting on 7 May 2012
16:00 18:00 at Zandvlei Sports Club.
CAPE Estuaries Programme: Implementation of Selected Components of the Estuary Management Plan (EMP) for the Zandvlei Estuary, Cape Town.
Present: Cassandra Sheasby, Dalton Gibbs, Garnet Prince, Anton Ressel, Chris Fallows, Pat Garratt, Case Veugelers, Lynn Jackson.
Apologies: Pierre de Villiers, Stephen Lamberth, Andy Killick.
The meeting started with some concerns being raised about the need for the 3 different TWGs to work together as most of the issues are inter-related. It was noted that the intention was, in fact, to have joint meetings around specific points for example, the contingency plan which would need input from a variety of perspectives. However, there are issues as reflected in the TOR which are specific to the management of fishing and the group was requested to focus on these for this first meeting.
Despite this, a number of useful points were raised which are summarised here for forwarding to the relevant TWGs:
There should be impoundments around all sewage pump stations so as to minimise sewage spills reaching the estuary;
There is already a Protocol in place for sampling in emergency situations, and this was implemented during the recent Golden Alga bloom;
This Protocol should be incorporated into a broader contingency plan covering all aspects of such events, from early warning mechanisms to coordination of response involving volunteers;
It was felt that over-harvesting of the pondweed could have contributed to the recent outbreak of the Golden Alga. There is thus a potential conflict of interest between different user groups. It was suggested that the approach to improving pondweed management should be less removal but that which is done is planned in strategically more intelligent ways to suit multiple user groups.
The next part of the discussion focussed on the Vlei by-law and was led by Dalton Gibbs. The existing by-law contains the following provisions:
Section 20: No person shall
(a) in or on a vlei -
(i) catch or kill fish in any manner other than by means of a hook fastened to a line;
(ii) use a spear, speargun, net or a like device for fishing;
(iii) use a light for fishing during the hours of darkness, or
(iv) fish from a bridge or any other overhead structure
[ Subsec.(a) as Substituted by P.N. 586/1982, 3 October 1986]
(b) without permission remove a prawn or a shrimp from any vlei or have in his possession any prawn or shrimp removed from a vlei. In granting any such permission the Council may impose such conditions as it deems fit;
(c) hunt any animal found in or on any vlei;
(d) in, upon or on the land abutting any vlei;
(i) sell, clean or dispose of any fish; or
(ii) without permission sell any article or goods;
Some of the proposed changes relevant to fishing include:
There should be catch and release only for all indigenous fish, whereas all alien fish should be removed;
Areas can be closed by the placement of notices;
There should be no live-bait fishing (which anyway contravenes the Animal Protection Act as well as the Parks by-laws);
The type of fishing methods and numbers of eg. rods in use by one individual can be stipulated in permits;
Some points from Stephen Lamberth who was unable to attend were also tabled as follows:
Local fishing regulations / bylaws are only valid if regarded as not being in conflict with the MLRA. The way to get around this is by not referring specifically to biodiversity or sustainability of the resource e.g. the ordinance on the prohibition on fishing between sunset and sunrise should be put forward as a public safety rather than a fishery control measure.
Similarly, there has been a massive problem in the Breede and other estuaries with the trolling for kob with rapala-type lures. In the Breede, a municipal ordinance prohibiting the trolling of lures has been recently (and quickly) passed as a safety measure for recreational users rather than as for protecting kob.
The catch-and-release of indigenous fish issue may be more difficult and will probably have to be gazetted under the MLRA. Sometimes this takes years.
Finally, with regards to catching and consuming alien species, there needs to be a heavy-metal study before we encourage people to eat fish from Zandvlei.
In the discussion around the by-law the following points were made:
Concerns were raised about the catch and release requirement for all indigenous fish. For example, there are people catching mullet in the estuary whose livelihoods are dependent on their catch. It was suggested that perhaps there could be a specific permit for mullet;
It was reported that the enforcement personnel had requested additional signage;
It was suggested in response to the fact that signs are frequently removed that a notice be placed on the bridge;
With regards fishing methods, it was proposed that there be a requirement for barbless hooks only, which do not damage the fish;
At present the people fishing at Zandvlei may have either Freshwater Angling licences (issued by CapeNature), or Marine licences (issued on behalf of DAFF by the Post Office) and it was noted that at present the Zandvlei staff do not have access to any kind of list of those issued by the Post Office. It was proposed that in future, all anglers at Zandvlei be required to have a Marine licence, and that proper records of such licences be kept and made available to the City staff;
Concerns were also raised regarding the approach to the by-law itself, which is proposed to be applicable to all vleis across the City, whereas there is a need in many areas for regulations which are specific to individual vleis. However, there could possibly be a general section applicable to all with subsequent chapters dealing with individual vleis.
The focus of the discussion then moved to law enforcement and who is responsible for enforcing both the City by-law/s and the national legislation (MLRA). It was noted that, although the Biodiversity staff are in the process of being re-instated as Peace Officers, the primary responsibility for enforcing by-laws lies with the Citys Law Enforcement division not SAPS. The Marine Unit which comprises 9 officers and which was brought to the attention of the ZEMF meeting by Julia Wood, is within this division. Issues at present include the fact that the members of the Marine Unit need training, they have been focussing on abalone poaching, and that there has been misinformation regarding the 1980 Vlei by-law with officials being under the impression that it has been repealed. The 1980 by-law, however, will remain in place until such time as the new by-law is promulgated.
The Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA) and associated regulations are implemented by DAFF, but there is also a lack of capacity here.
Since the political head of City Security is Councillor JP Smith, it was suggested that a question be posed to him regarding the enforcement of the Vlei by-law/s, and that he be requested to provide a 24-hour number on which the relevant officials could be contacted when, for example, local residents saw people fishing illegally in Zandvlei. Case Veugelers undertook to do this.
Dalton Gibbs will continue to be involved in the development of the new by-law/s.
An MoU need to be developed with DAFF on trek-netting and it was suggested that they be requested to undertake an additional survey as a follow-up to the recent incident, although it was noted that the next survey is scheduled for the end of May.
Lynn Jackson also offered to follow-up on the proposed MoU between DAFF, CapeNature and the City aimed at improving coordination with respect to Law Enforcement.
The proposed Contingency Plan will be developed in collaboration with the TWG on Hydrodynamics and Water Quality.
It was agreed that another meeting of the group should be held in about a month.