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Fishing industry
March 2014

Reeling in on SA’s

fishing problems

A highly qualified and peer-respected scientist from Gleneagles Environmental Consultants acted as consultant to the SA Consolidated Recreational Angling Association (SACRAA) for a three month period ending February, reported SAFTAD chairman John Pledger.

Gleneagles guided SACRAA about the best way to interact with government and environmental agencies about various issues, including NEMBA (National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act) legislation, said Pledger. They are doing a review in March to determine if they’ll continue with the consultation.

A former academic with impeccable marine science and environmental credentials, the scientist has “the knowledge and clout to talk to government and environmental scientists on an equal footing.” He is also a keen fisherman.

While SAFTAD (the SA Fishing Tackle Agents and Distributors) only represents the fishing tackle trade, SACRAA represents everybody with an interest in recreational fishing, explains Pledger. This includes anglers, clubs, retailers, venues and anybody else who benefit in any way from recreational angling. “We want to get it across to the people in government that when they think recreational fishing, they must think SACRAA,” he says.

Among others, they also took into consideration the example of international angling organisations — like the European association EFTTA — in the way they interact with governments and play a role in formulating angling policies. EFTTA, for example, has a permanent lobbyist at the European Parliament in Brussels, who regularly makes representations on behalf of European recreational angling.

SACRAA is also planning to commission a job creation survey by a reputable academic institution, which will show the value that recreational fishing adds to the economy. A similar study in the US showed that the 50-m anglers generated 880 000 jobs, which means that our 2.5-m anglers could create about 40 000 jobs. But, the outcome of the survey must be beyond question and stand up to peer reviews and government scrutiny, says Pledger.

NEMBA, the biodiversity act, has been gazetted, but not promulgated, and recreational fishing is represented on the various fish species forums debating the legislation by Bernard Venter, the SA Sport Anglers and Casting Confederation (SASACC) freshwater conservation officer.

“We have been assured that it is really not aimed at harming recreational angling, but we are still negotiating certain issues,” says Pledger. “The aim is to stop the spreading of foreign species.”

Recreational anglers will be able to get permits to fish for the species listed (including bass and trout), but they will have to be killed when caught — one can no longer catch and release.

Pledger urges all retailers selling recreational fishing gear (clothing, tackle, boats, etc.) and anglers to join SACRAA in order to create a strong lobby group that would compel government to negotiate with when introducing recreational fishing policies. The organisation is still administered and funded by SAFTAD.

Lobster campaigns

Recreational Fishing Services (RFS) is a lobby organisation campaigning on behalf of retailers, equipment suppliers, and other businesses involved with the West Coast lobster industry. They have been petitioning the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) on an annual basis to increase the bag limits for recreational fishermen to catch rock lobsters, as well as to increase the limited recreational west coast Rock Lobster season.

Their latest endeavour is to try and obtain a copy of a study that allegedly supports the cause of the recreational fisherman regarding a lengthened recreational west coast Rock Lobster season.

“This document has been requested from Fisheries (DAFF) through normal channels,” says Cary Steele-Boe, RFS chairperson. “It has since been refused for public view by fisheries. An appeal has been sent. I hold no hope for the appeal.”

The company that did the study is Mthente consulting, owned by Mills Soko, says Steele-Boe.

“This year is going to be vitally important for recreational fishing,” he says.

RFS has sent a letter to all major tackle retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, requesting support to open a dedicated office in the Western Cape. “There is possible legislation coming which will vastly hinder your ability to fish, and in turn, will destroy the recreational fishing and diving industry.”

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