Coast KZN

08 Sep 2016

KZN’s unguarded coastline

Tony Carnie (The Mercury)

Policing vacuum feared

The national Fisheries Department continued to evade questions this week on how many inspectors had been sent to KwaZulu-Natal to take over marine policing patrols from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

About 90 full-time Ezemvelo staff and another 80 honorary officers were withdrawn from coastal policing and monitoring duties on July 31 after the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries terminated Ezemvelo’s long-standing contract.

The abrupt takeover has heightened concerns about a policing vacuum and increase in marine poaching.

The department has not published a detailed rationale for the decision to cancel the contract and has evaded questions on how many staff it will provide.

The Fisheries Department’s media officers failed to respond to further queries sent on Tuesday, amid reports that just a handful of the department’s staff had been deployed here from the Cape Town head office.

Sources suggest that less than a dozen staff have been sent to KZN so far and that they are staying in hotels and B&Bs and claiming subsistence and travel allowances because they have been sent here at short notice.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries also failed to respond to questions on the lodging arrangements of replacement personnel.

Sources said several skilled Ezemvelo marine staffers were still being redeployed to land-based duties for which they have little experience, although some might be employed by the department.

Last month the DA sent a petition to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, to immediately reinstate Ezemvelo as the custodian of the KZN coastline.



Thomas Hadebe, the party’s environmental affairs spokesman, said the cancellation of the Ezemvelo contract would lead to an increase in poaching and overfishing.

“Ezemvelo and its predecessors have been looking after the KZN coast for decades, and to remove this competency will be a disaster,” he warned.

Earlier this year, a provincial government advisory group on coastal issues also called for the decision to be reversed and urged the KZN environmental affairs MEC to intervene.

Sihle Zikalala, who took over as MEC three months ago, has yet to make any definitive statement on the matter.


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