Dam Fishery

News From Vanderkloof

On the 22nd January 2017, the Head of Department for the Department of Environment and Nature Conservation (Northern Cape) issued an exemption in terms of the Northern Cape Nature Conservation Act, 2009 (Act No. 9 of 2009) to Rhodes University (and all fishers and employees) for an experimental fishery on Vanderkloof Dam. This exemption allows the use of gillnets, which will catch and kill the listed Largemouth Yellowfish. Despite our objections, the Vanderkloof Advisory Group (AG) accepted the exemption as tabled at the AG meeting held on 27 January. The Act does not allow for the issuing of a permit for the proposed activities, so the MEC made what appears to be a political decision by invoking the exemption clause of Act. This clause may appear to be all encompassing, but from a legal perspective it needs to be taken in context of the purpose of the Act, which is to protect species such as the LMY (amongst others). The exemption effectively undoes the Act in its entirety as it applies to protected fish species.

Subsequent to this and after discussions within SACRAA prior to the June 2017 AG Meeting we have decided to accept this exemption at face value for now as other options may lead to us being excluded from the AG. We feel it is in our interests to continue operating from within the AG where we can be directly involved as the proposed project progresses. However, before the project can continue the permit issues from national DEA still needed to be resolved. Rhodes finally received a research permit from the DEA this month (April 2018), which allows them to conduct experimental fishing operations involving the LMY. The permit allows Rhodes to keep dead specimens only – all live caught LMY must be returned to the water. The permit also states that these fish may not be sold or traded unless the recipient(s) have the necessary permits from DEA in terms of NEM:BA. In accordance with the Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) developed by the AG, a limit of 20 LMY per month has been set. Once this number is reached, no more may be caught and kept.

At the AG meeting held on 26 July 2018 it was confirmed that the experimental fishery would finally get underway. The participants have undergone the necessary training and the equipment (boat and fishing gear) has been acquired. Catch data will be collected on all fish caught and will be analysed prior to the next AG meeting in November. SACRAA will review the data and formulate a response to the AG at that time. SACRAA will continue to participate in the AG meetings and will monitor the progress of the research through this group and communicate progress via this site. The minutes from the latest AG meeting can be viewed on the Kraal Fishery page under the Projects menu (Kraal Fishery sub-menu).

See home page for latest developments regarding the issuing of a provincial exemption and national permit to Rhodes University to initiate an experimental fishery using gillnets, which will result in the catching and killing of Largemouth Yellowfish (LMY), a species protected under both Provincial and National ordinances.

SACRAA became involved at Vanderkloof Dam after several members of the public contacted us expressing concern after a presentation by the Rural Fisheries Programme at a public meeting in December 2014. We immediately registered as an interested and affected party and requested a seat on the Advisory Group (AG). Our response to the presentation and initial representations to the AG made our standpoint clear.

The latest Experimental Fishery Management Plan (EFMP) for Vanderkloof Dam provides the background to the proposed fishery as well as the proposed experimental approach designed to determine the feasibility and sustainability of the envisaged small-scale commercial fishery. SACRAA has fought to prevent the use of gillnets as we believe that not only will they cause irreparable damage to the LMY stocks in the dam but their use in a commercial fishery is not provided for in either National or Provincial legislation. A permit has been issued to initiate the experimental fishery but with the condition that no more than 20 LMY may be harvested per month. SACRAA remain a part of the process via the AG and will ensure the permit conditions are adhered to by engaging the relevant authorities tasked with monitoring the fishery.

The following provides links to some of SACRAA’s submissions to National and Provincial authorities in this regard and their responses.

Submissions to Authorities

Motivation for gillnet exclusion May 2015

Response from Northern Cape on motivation to exclude gillnets July 2015

Legal queries to DEA July 2015

SACRAA submission to Rhodes – DEA response to legal queries October 2015

Advisory Group meetings

See page on the Kraal Fishery for all recent updates on Advisory Group meetings as they pertain to the proposed Dam and Kraal Fisheries.