Friday, December 7, 2007

Ban on all diving in Cape Point Nature Reserve!!

Hey guys there is a mail going around with details on the ban on all diving in Cape Point Nature Reserve. Please if you ever use the sea in any way help these guy out and sign. I know we need to conserve what we have, but banning something because it cant / wont be policed properly ... well that just sux!!

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Anonymous said...

Found this on

Diving ban: WWF has its say
06/12/2007 14:02 - (SA)

Cape Town - Conservation organisation WWF has reacted with mixed feelings to the ban on recreational diving, proposed by Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk as part of the fight to save abalone from extinction.

The WWF said it recognised that the status of abalone stocks in South Africa and the social effects of rampant poaching warrants urgent action and that a total ban on diving in prescribed areas could be a very effective way to simplify compliance and enforcement in these areas.

However, the organisation warned that such drastic measures could alienate one of marine conservation's most avid supporters, scuba divers and snorkellers.

The WWF also stressed the need for the development and implementation of a comprehensive, integrated compliance plan that tackles the poaching problem, from divers entering the water through to export across our borders.

It should involve a wide range of government institutions. In the absence of such an overall plan, measures like those proposed in recent months - closure of the legal fishery and now a ban on diving - will continue to be seen as simply punishing legal operations whilst illegal activity continues unabated, the organisation said.

"Just yesterday I was at the Betty's Bay Marine Protected Area and noticed a suspicious rubber duck on the outer reefs. I called the 24-hour anti-poaching line for the area, but there was no response. Under these conditions of negligible enforcement response, one must conclude that a ban on diving would be fruitless - poaching would continue unabated and at the cost of alienating one's support base, said Dr Deon Nel, Manager of the WWF Sanlam Living Waters Partnership.

A middle way

"Over and above the development of an inter-departmental compliance plan, the government simply needs to commit more resources and capacity to the fight against poaching and its effects on coastal communities. It's time we all recognised that this is well beyond merely an environmental issue, but one with dire socio-economic impacts on already impoverished coastal communities."

WWF conceded that if the government committed adequate resources to ensure effective compliance, a ban on diving in more remote areas, such as Dyer Island and Bird Island, could have significant benefits of simplifying enforcement and prosecution procedures.

However, in highly utilised areas, such as the Cape Peninsula, WWF believed a more inclusive process needed to be followed.

"Perhaps a middle way would be to permit diving only during daylight hours on weekends, when most recreation diving takes place. Such an arrangement would still assist in compliance, whilst also allowing scuba divers to appreciate the beauty of this area.

"However, these arrangements will need to be discussed directly with the diving fraternity. WWF encourages DEAT and the diving enthusiasts to engage constructively around this matter, and remains committed to assisting in this process in any way we can," Nel concluded.

Coatesman said...

Some more news24

Perlemoen crisis
16/11/2007 14:33 - (SA)

Abalone industry 'in crisis'

Perlemoen deadline extended

Perlemoen ban 'bewildering'

Extinction crisis for abalone

Verashni Pillay

Cape Town - Hundreds of small-scale fishermen in the Western Cape will be affected by the proposed ban on commercial abalone (perlemoen) fishing, although it is large-scale poaching that has caused their near commercial extinction, experts told News24.

Masifundise Development Organisation, a non-governmental organisation that works with small-scale and traditional fishing and coastal communities along the Cape's south and west coasts, has convinced government to delay the ban to February 2008, arguing that the ban would jeopardise the livelihoods of fishermen.

"Two hundred and fifty individual rights holders and 42 closed corporations in the Western cape will be affected," Masifundise director Naseegh Jaffer told News24.

Warnings since 2004

The looming commercial extinction of the edible mollusc has been cause for concern for some years. Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk's office said that warnings the fishing of abalone might be closed were issued as far back as 2004.

But the ban that was originally planned for November 1 caused outrage amongst trade unions and organisations like Masifundise.

Jaffer said that the real problem was with the poachers and not with the legitimate "rights holders": the fishermen who were permitted to fish.

"The legal quantity that the fishermen can take out is a 125 tonnes," said Jaffer. "Our understanding is that the poachers remove probably 20 times as much as that."

The 125 tonnes is the legal limit for the season and the season is generally six to eight months long, according to Jaffer.

While government has drawn up a social plan to provide the fishers with alternative means of employment, Jaffer said the plan as it stood would not work.

Shark cage diving

Some of the measures incorporated into the current social plan included developing a sustainable aqua-culture industry and issuing additional permits for whale-watching and shark cage diving.

But Jaffer said those options were not feasible. "To start an abalone farm you'll probably have to have capital outlay to the value of R10m and fishermen don't have that kind of money. It will take a minimum of five years in order to make your first money and fishermen can't work that long either."

Basic equipment for perlemoen fishing include a wetsuit, lead weights and two aqualungs. Fishermen either waded in from the shore or dived off boats.

The new social plans were outside the capacity of ordinary fishermen, according to Jaffer. He said that even shark cage diving required equipment that they did not have.

However Jaffer commended the minister for committing himself to a consultative process with the unions and fishers to work out a new social plan.

"Our belief is that there must be the most practical relief measures put in place that will maintain the income of small scale fishers as soon as the industry closes."

It appeared that closing the industry was not an option. Rhodes University Icthyology head of department, Professor Pete Britz, said that commercial abalone fishing would inevitably have to be stopped, it was only a question of when.

While trade union organisations lauded government's decision to delay the ban on commercial abalone fishing, Britz warned that the entire current fishing rights policy must be reworked to save the mollusc from commercial extinction.

Winning the poaching war

"I see it purely as a means to restructure the current management of the fishery," said Britz of the proposed ban. "Government has to get rights holders more actively involved in protecting and rebuilding the resource. They are the key to success. If rights holders actively guard their areas we can win the poaching war."

However, Britz pointed out that while the ban was absolutely necessary, it should just be an interim measure. "If MCM (Marine and Coastal Management) and government negotiate a partnership to restructure rights and work together to protect and rehabilitate the resource, you could actually get an immediate increase in employment through enhanced security, reseeding of cultured perlemoen and so on," he said.

Jaffer said that the minister's proposed ban was indefinite. The numbers of perlemoen were so low that it would take at least seven years for stocks to build up before the industry could reopen.

Britz too said that poaching was the real reason behind the problem, spurred by the high price of perlemoen. "On a 'good' day a boat based poacher can make R30-40 000 for 100kg of meat," said Britz, explaining that the legal export price for the sort after fish was about R800/kg for meat. He said poacher divers get R300-400/kg.

Britz said that in some ways the crisis was a good thing as the industry was in a no win situation before. "The crisis has focussed minds on possible solutions and got players around the table," said Britz. "The minister's agreement to suspend the ban until February and work with Cosatu towards a solution is a step in the right direction."