KNYSNA NEWS - A six-year programme that has seen the catch and release of 1 700 fish and sharks from 41 different species and tagging of 500 fish continues to yield success in the Goukamma region according to CapeNature, the organisation behind the programme.
Priority fish species, which are big enough, are tagged. The tagging data then contributes towards the national tagging programme run by the Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban, where the data is used to better understand fish growth and movement patterns over time.
Fish population dynamics inside and outside of the Goukamma Marine Protected Area (MPA) is compared by researchers. As part of finding solutions to the sustainable maintenance of fish stocks, CapeNature embarked on research in the Goukamma area, in collaboration with volunteer anglers, to monitor fish diversity and abundance in and adjacent to the MPA, which has a coastline of about 16km between Knysna and Sedgefield and extends 1.85km out to sea.
The Goukamma MPA was proclaimed in the interest of protecting the inshore marine environment, which is currently under great pressure nationwide. In an effort to obtain critical informatoin on fish stocks, data is collected on eight weekend outings per year, using eight local volunteer anglers.
Shore-based line-fish populations are being monitored to measure the size and age of the populations over time.
"Volunteers and local communities play a pivotal role in conserving and managing marine resources and ensuring sustainable fisheries management. CapeNature urges the public to get involved to ensure that fisheries stocks are conserved for generations to come," added Coral Birss, CapeNature's executive director of biodiversity capabilities.
CapeNature marine ranger at Goukamma Nature Reserve, Wayne Meyer, said that although an MPA, Goukamma is still open to shore-based line fishing, meaning the inshore line-fish species receive little protection. "The low catch rate of fish in the project has highlighted the need to close a section of the coast to shore-based line fishing.
Thankfully CapeNature has a proposal in with Environmental Affairs to do just this, where inshore fish stocks would then enjoy the protection they so desperately need, ensuring that local fish stocks are replenished," he added.
Not only is CapeNature continuing their efforts in Goukamma, but they also took part in World Fisheries Day which was celebrated, as it is every year, on 21 November. The day helps to highlight the critical importance of fish and the lives they sustain, both in and out of water.
Fisheries play an integral role in sustaining not only human lives but also aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. More than 25% of the world's dietary protein is provided by fish. Many fishermen rely on fish stocks for sustenance, making the protection of our fish stocks critical.
Over 200-million of Africa's 1-billion people regularly consume fish and nearly half of this comes from inland fisheries.
'We bring you the latest Knysna, Garden Route news'