Coast KZN

29 Oct 2016

Fishermen want access to piers after Durban drownings

Tanya Waterworth (Independent on Saturday)

The Virginia Beach pier was in the process of being repaired with new railings on Friday. Despite the locked gate and warning signs, fisherman were still fishing from the pier. (Photo Credit: Niamh Walsh-Voster)

The KZN Subsistence Fishermen’s Forum (KZNSFF) has asked the city to open the fishing piers off Durban’s beaches which were closed ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

This comes after three fishermen drowned off Virginia Beach pier in Durban North, in two separate incidents this week, with the KZNSFF claiming the piers built for fishermen after the World Cup were “unsafe”.

In a letter to the municipality on Friday, a copy of which was sent to The Independent on Saturday, KZNSFF spokesman Desmond D’Sa said: “Fishermen have fished off Durban piers for hundreds of years and just before the 2010 World Cup they were removed by the municipality and were forced to fish on unsafe piers, which were not built to accommodate spring tides, heavy swells and massive waves which pose a serious danger.”

He requested that all fishing piers be looked at to see whether they complied with necessary safety standards.

“While this is being done, we urge the municipality to give instructions to the officials to open up fishing piers that were closed before 2010, West Street and three other piers which are currently catering for tourists only, and this should be done immediately to prevent any incidents and deaths, and at the same time to allow people to fish for a livelihood,” said D’Sa.

eThekwini Municipality spokeswoman, Tozi Mthethwa, said they were aware of the concerns raised by the fishermen.

“We have explained that the city’s designated fishing posts were chosen because of their ideal location away from residents and tourists.

“Fishing apparatus would cause a danger to the lives and well-being of those swimming, walking or surfing in the area.

“The fishermen were also warned against the failure to keep their fishing spots, namely the pier, hygienic at all times,” said Mthethwa.

Last weekend, Waseem Adham, 21, and Imram Mohamed, 31, drowned at Virginia Beach after Adham fell into the sea from the pier.

Mohamed jumped in after his friend in an effort to save him. On Thursday, Neran Dulundas, 41, also fell off the pier and was swept away.

Durban search and rescue divers spent hours looking for Dulundas, whose body was recovered at about 2pm, approximately 500m south of the pier.

eThekwini Municipality installed a lockable gate at the entrance to the pier and by on Friday evening, the end of the pier was being repaired.

Despite the locked gate and warnings posted by the municipality that the pier was closed, there were a number of fishermen on it on Friday evening.

Fishermen on the beach said a repair crew had put guard rails at the end of the pier. They all supported the idea of fishermen being allowed back on Durban’s main piers, although they agreed there was good fishing off Virginia Beach.

On Friday the chairman of KZNSFF, Essop Mohamed, said there were thousands of subsistence fishermen registered with the organisation, many of whom relied on fishing to feed their families.


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