For years, i’ve heard rumours that illegal long-net fishing was happening in the Knysna Municipality, an area rich in estuaries and lakes.
Whether urban myth or not, fishermen were worried at the alarming decline in the fish population.
1-2 years ago, i was told that that here was an operation acting at night in the Swartvlei Estuary in Sedgefield, allegedly run by a Chinese businessman and a SANParks employee. But without evidence, such can only be treated as rumour, never published.
Not long after that, i heard that boats had been illegally fishing with long nets the night before. A few weeks later, i received a 1am phone call from 2 fishermen telling me that it had happened again.
Without resources, it was impossible for me to investigate, only report on it if others brought facts to light. That has now, thankfully happened.
A subscriber contacted me last week to tell me that a long net had been recovered from Swartvlei. I got hold of SANPARKS who responded with:
“Four people in their 30s were apprehended two nights ago [Feb 17 2016] by SANParks rangers who were on a night patrol around Swartvlei (Sedgefield). This area is managed by the Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park.
Rangers recovered a stolen boat (a dingy) and returned it to its owner. They also removed a 120-meter gill net on site, which was strung across the channel near the island, in Sedgefield, by the suspects.
Jonathan Britton, a SANParks marine ranger, said, “We continue our search for all stolen goods from the Park, including on land and in and around estuaries in the Wilderness section. We also urge boat and vessel holders to be in possession of their permits to avoid confusion of what’s legal or not during night patrols.”
SANParks would also like to thank members of the public who report sinister and suspicious happenings in and around the Garden Route National Park – 044 877 0046.
Gillnets are particular bad as they can drag out juvenile fish and protected species.
“A gillnet is a wall of netting that hangs in the water column, typically made of monofilament or multifilament nylon. Mesh sizes are designed to allow fish to get only their head through the netting, but not their body. The fish’s gills then get caught in the mesh as the fish tries to back out of the net.” – Wikipedia
I hope this makes front page news everywhere, encouraging more patrols and investigation.
NB: On a smaller scale, but still notable, is that some local fishermen are using nets, across the flow, under the bridge, at night.