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Friday, June 09, 2006

SA Fisheries Alert

Just so you know I'm not smoking crack whilst recieving oral sex from a fifty-three year-old male prostitute and hence have imparied judgement, there really is a crisis with fish stocks in South African waters. A recent article in the Mail & Guardian states:

Climate change and improvements in the technological efficiency of South Africa's fishing fleets have led to catches hitting an historical low over the past year, says the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Reduced catches had resulted in fewer jobs and unemployment was "rife" in the industry, marine and coastal management deputy director general Dr Monde Mayekiso told a media briefing in Cape Town on Wednesday.

"Catches of fish in the sea are at an historical low. The reasons include demand and improvements in technology, and a shift in the distribution of certain species," he said.

His colleague, chief director research for Antarctica and islands, Dr Johann Augustyn, warned there was "something amiss" in South Africa's marine environment.

...Asked if he thought the department's total allowable catch (TAC) figures were pegged accurately, Mayekiso said: "I do not think that TACs were set incorrectly, but maybe it [is] a case of we were not too wise to the deployment of more sophisticated technology to catch fish."

He said the application of improved technology by the industry had seen it become "too good for its own good. Because even when the fish are few, you can still catch a lot and that can accelerate the demise of your fisheries.

"In theory, when stocks are down we should be catching less, so that it becomes expensive to fish. But if you've got good technology ... you fish even when the stocks are down, and that is a problem."

And, what happens to the stuff caught in SA waters, it gets eaten in big cities like Johannesburg:

Like a bloodhound on the scent of a crime, Kerry Sink enters Portugal Fisheries in Troyeville, Johannesburg, and heads straight for a freezer at the rear of the store. The 33-year-old marine biologist closely scrutinises a package of crayfish tails. “See the scalloped lines on the shell?” she asks. “Illegal East Coast rock lobsters. In KwaZulu-Natal, I’d have an army of epauletted wildlife officers here in a minute.”

Accompanying Sink on a day-long tour of Johannesburg fish shops and restaurants, we discover illegal stock in all but one outlet. On offer throughout the city are shoals of undersized, no-sale-allowed and endangered, but legal, ex-denizens of the deep.

Six years ago, the government declared a “crisis” in linefish stocks and clamped down on fishing permits. But, says Sink, “the line fishery is still in a crisis”. Gauteng is a backwater of fisheries law enforcement, and little has been done to staunch the bloodletting from the other end of the food chain.

How can you solve this problem? Don't eat fish.



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