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A Hibberdene angler, who wishes to be known only as ‘Irate Fisherman’, is questioning the wisdom of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) cancelling Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s contract to police the province’s shoreline.
This is after the heavy-handed dealings a friend endured from the DAFF officials who have taken over from the well-trained Ezemvelo coastal custodians.
‘Irate Fisherman’ told the South Coast Herald that his friend’s run-in with DAFF officials began soon after he had come out of the water after diving at Hibberdene on Friday, September 23. His friend was walking to the car park, still wearing his wetsuit, and was in possession of seven legal-sized crayfish when he was stopped by the DAFF officials.
Without identifying themselves they accused him of being over his quota. After the diver politely pointed out they were mistaken and that the quota was in fact eight, the officials asked him for his permit.
When he explained it was in his vehicle as he could not carry it while diving, the officers arrested him and took him to the local police station where a charge was laid.
Although the diver was able to produce a valid permit, his crayfish were confiscated and a court order was served upon him. Fortunately for him he was able to meet with the SAP officer in charge of case before the court proceedings began and the case was thrown out of court.
Even after phoning DAFF, he didn’t receive the confiscated crayfish back.
When she was contacted for comment about the incident Fisheries director of communication Services Palesa Mokomele promised she would follow up on the complaint.
‘Irate Fisherman’ is not the only person concerned about the fact Ezemvelo is no longer the custodian of our coastline. A number of environmental agencies have expressed their concern. The Democratic Alliance (DA) has filed a petition, with 70 signatures, to the Minister of Agriculture, forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, asking him to reinstate Ezemvelo as the coastal custodian.
According to DA shadow Minister of Environmental Affairs, Thomas Hadebe, approximately 80 Ezemvelo marine conservation staff had been responsible for patrolling the province’s coastline. DAFF would now be compelled to deploy and train an equivalent number of new staff to take over from the experienced Ezemvelo officials. The responsibility of policing the coast was now in the hands war veterans and other Western Cape personnel.
‘Irate Fisherman’ has questioned these new officials’s ability to cope.
“While they have a big task and zero tolerance is necessary for legitimate poaching, it seems some of the new DAFF officials are uninformed and not following correct procedure,” he said.
Ezemvelo officials had earned the respect and co-operation of recreational fishermen. The false arrest by the DAFF officials was unacceptable, he added.