Working together for a safe season
Kerry Massey of Pumula Crime Watch. "The biggest concern, it was agreed, was to ensure the beaches...
The arrogance of the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) knows no bounds.
The decision to remove effective Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife rangers and honorary officers from KZN’s 560-km long coastline at the end of July and replace them with a few untrained rangers is causing havoc when it comes to our precious marine resources.
In a bizarre move it has now been left to local citizens along our coastline to remove gill nets, patrol after hours and report incidents of poaching to the SAPS. These community members are offering their time and putting their lives at risk in the name of conservation.
This week alone saw Richard’s Bay residents and the SAPS remove seven kilometres of gill nets from the Richards Bay harbour, releasing approximately 700 fish.
The DAFF’s decision to change a system without consultation is bad enough. But to then replace a good service with a handful of unskilled rangers who do not know the area, do not respond to calls after hours and barely know the difference between a sardine and a shad is absurd.
Meanwhile, highly illegal gill nets, known as “Walls of Death” are being strung across rivers, estuaries, bays and even in the Jozini Dam to catch indiscriminately, threatening the future of many valuable resources.
In August the Democratic Alliance submitted a petition in a bid to get answers around the DAFF’s bizarre decision to remove Ezemvelo from patrolling KZN’s coastline. To date we have not received any satisfactory answers other than a reply that bases in Richards Bay, Ethekwini and the South Coast would undertake the role.
The DA condemns the cavalier attitude to our marine resources which flies in the face of the department’s much vaunted Operation Phakisa, which seeks to protect for the future. If the DAFF does not up its game there will be nothing left to protect.
ANN McDONNELL, MPL
DA KZN Spokesman on Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA)