Coast KZN

25 Feb 2020

Concerns of KZN being stripped of mussels

Thobeka Ngema (The Mercury: IOL) Picture: THIS photo of a heap of mussel shells was taken at a beach in KwaDukuza.

Durban – Mussels may be a sustainable seafood source, but there are concerns of exploitation of the resource in KwaZulu-Natal. A Facebook user posted on the KwaDukuza-Ilembe public matters and reporting group that mussels were being stripped along a beach in KwaDukuza (Stanger). The user said a heap of mussel shells was the result of removing Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife from beaches.

“Mussels are being raped off our rocks, wonder what the politicians have to say about this,” the Facebook user said.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said it could not respond on the issue because its contract with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries lapsed a few years ago. Councillor Geoff Pullan said he was concerned about the number of mussels being stripped from North Coast beaches. He said it was a major problem, but it seemed no one was willing to do anything about it.

“Most authorities have closed down and now people are grabbing mussels.

“We need to get environmentalists and enforcement agencies involved,” Pullan said.

Department spokesperson Zolile Nqayi said the limit for mussels varied according to the type of mussel.  There was no limit for white mussels (Donax serra) that commercial white mussel harvesters could take. However, recreational fishers were limited to take 50 per person per day.

“Some of the types of mussels occur in more than one province.

“Brown mussels (Perna perna) are currently harvested in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal by small-scale fishers and recreational fishers and their bag limit is 30 brown mussels per person per day,” Nqayi said.

SA Association for Marine Biological Research conservation strategist Dr Judy Mann said there were no concerns regarding mussels in KZN, but there were cases of over-exploitation.

“You need a licence and can harvest 30 mussels a person a day,” Mann said.

She said mussels were not endangered and along with oysters were on the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative Green List.

Meanwhile, the dramatic drop in exports to China has influenced the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries to extend the West Coast rock lobster season to assist affected fishers amid the coronavirus outbreak. The department said the outbreak had caused a drastic decline in the export price for lobster. This had led to fishers asking the department to take remedial measures to support the industry. According to the department, 90% of rock lobster is exported to China.

Minister Barbara Creecy said they decided to extend the near-shore fishery in the Western Cape until June and the offshore and Northern Cape fisheries until September.