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13 Sep 2016

iSimangaliso, residents fight over fish kraals

Mphathi Nxumalo (Daily News)

One of the many fish kraals used by residents of Enkovukeni in the uMhlabuyalingana Municipality. The residents claim that wildlife authority, iSimangaliso, has been oppressing them for many years in restricting their fishing. Residents also say their livelihood is being threatened. (Photo Credit: Geoff Brink)

The Enkovukeni community in uMhlabuyalingana Municipality, near the border of Mozambique, is crying foul about iSimangaliso Wetlands restrictions on their fishing ways.

The community lives off the fish in the Makawulana River, which surrounds the community, forming a small island.

Their method of fishing is by creating fish kraals, which when they are properly formed, trap the fish, making it easy for the villagers to catch.

However, during the Daily News’s visit to the area at the weekend when a boat was sponsored by the Department of Transport, Sharks Board, South African Maritime Safety Authority and other stakeholders, community members voiced their unhappiness.

They claimed that the wildlife authority was preventing them from “putting food on the table”, by preventing more kraals from being built.

Richard Ngubane, 50, said iSimangaliso had issues with the fish kraals.

The father of five said the fish kraal he relied on to catch the fish was passed down to him by his father, who received it from his grandfather.

He said he had been using this method for the past 24 years, since he got retrenched.

Another resident, Lindani Ngubane (not related), said it angered residents that iSimangaliso allowed tourists to take photos near the existing fish kraals, to market itself.

He said villagers did not benefit from the tourist tours.

The restricted kraals, which take up to 18 months to build, provide a living to about 1 000 residents in the area.

Chief executive of iSimangaliso, Andrew Zaloumis, said the Protected Areas Act and the World Heritage Convention Act guided their activities.

“These laws do not preclude fishing, rather they require that fishing occurs within limits,” he said.

Zaloumis said research showed that some of the fish which were dependent on the estuary were heavily exploited, and that this had serious implications for commercial line and subsistence fishing which made it important that fishing be done within limits.

He said iSimangaliso could not regulate the taking of photographs by tourists and that those who took photos were “advised” to ask permission from the people they photographed.

 

Online Article