For­get kreef, ban boat­ing and stone the poach­ers

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

THE OTHER evening, at Ma­hogany Ridge, a chap came round with a pe­ti­tion about the rock lob­ster quo­tas for recre­ational fish­ing just as a dis­cus­sion on the ram­pant poach­ing of same that takes place on an al­most daily ba­sis just a stone’s throw from the Slangkop light­house ap­peared to be edg­ing to­wards a vi­o­lent con­clu­sion.

A let­ter had ap­peared in one of the com­mu­nity news­pa­pers de­tail­ing a res­i­dent’s en­counter with these poach­ers, ap­par­ently mem­bers of what is re­ferred to in some quar­ters as the lo­cal Rasta­far­ian com­mu­nity, al­though I fail to see how the sport­ing of dread­locks and thug­gish be­hav­iour makes one a devo­tee of this ob­ses­sively back­ward re­li­gious cult.

It’s rather like call­ing pae­dophiles Catholics.

Ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per’s cor­re­spon­dent, a group of maybe 10 dread­fuls had hauled out about a thou­sand or so mainly un­der­sized cray­fish, and were busily load­ing black dust­bin bags full of their spoils on to a bakkie when he came across them.

It was the poach­ers’ stupid and rather ag­gres­sive com­ments when con­fronted – “The ocean is for­ever!” “Don’t in­ter­fere with our work!” “We know where you live!” – that had set us off at the Ridge, and it was per­haps not a good time to flap about a piece of paper and call for sig­na­tures de­mand­ing that de­cent, law-abid­ing folk have a more sen­si­ble crack at what’s left on the ocean floor.

Two dis­tinct fac­tions had emerged, both of them largely un­rea­son­able.

One was of the opin­ion that it was fu­tile to bother one­self with no­tions of ma­rine con­ser­vancy, or any form of ac­tion aimed at pro­tect­ing our wilder­nesses for that mat­ter, be­cause the en­vi­ron­ment had been plun­dered to the ex­tent that it was now only a mat­ter of months, if not weeks, be­fore the At­lantic was as bar­ren as the Sa­hara.

There­fore, to avoid missing out on the spoils, be­come a poacher your­self and get in at the death, as it were.

Ev­ery­one was do­ing it and, as ex­pe­ri­ence has shown, no one would stop you, cer­tainly not the au­thor­i­ties.

This was where the other group dif­fered, loudly opin­ing that it was not yet too late to make a dif­fer­ence – al­though dras­tic ac­tion was needed, such as ban­ning fish­ing al­to­gether.

Well, within a 50km ra­dius of the light­house. (Please note: the con­sump­tion of al­co­hol had lit­tle to do with the for­ma­tion of this opin­ion.)

I liked the think­ing here, and where it was go­ing. More of that in a moment. First I must ad­mit that I fail to see the point of cray­fish. It’s not even a fish, so why call it that?

To my mind, there’s some­thing dis­taste­fully glut­tonous about the cul­ture of eat­ing these things. Any­one who has ever seen the af­ter­math of an all-you­can-eat Mozam­bi­can prawn binge on a Sun­day af­ter­noon in Jo­han­nes­burg’s south­ern sub­urbs will get my drift.

It’s not pretty, all those greasy faces, the peri-peri and le­mon but­ter stains, the shells in the laps, the wheez­ing and wind-break­ing at the ta­ble. It means lit­tle to me, there­fore, if I never see a cray­fish again, and I’d rather they were just left alone in the sea to scurry about and eat waste.

I re­alise, how­ever, that this is a mi­nor­ity view­point. But I don’t care. This is not an age of con­sen­sus, and any­way, most peo­ple don’t know what’s good for them. Which is why our plan to save the vil­lage from the cray­fish men­ace will prob­a­bly come as a sur­prise to the res­i­dents and ratepay­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion.

True, they may ob­ject to hav­ing been ig­nored in the process al­to­gether, but they’ll shut up soon enough when our rad­i­cal cell gets its Lotto fund­ing.

We’ve asked for a lot. Or­di­nar­ily, you’d think the tom would be more ap­pro­pri­ately doled out to char­i­ties and var­i­ous other wor­thy con­cerns, but events this week have shown oth­er­wise. If the Na­tional Youth Devel­op­ment Agency can get R40 mil­lion for its anti-im­pe­ri­al­ism beano, then we too should be al­lowed a fair whack of the Lotto cake to im­ple­ment our scheme.

Our plan is sim­ple re­ally. And when you’re deal­ing with the Na­tional Lot­ter­ies Board it has to be sim­ple. That’s a mis­take of­ten made by those wait­ing in vain for money for Aids hos­pices or lu­natic self-help schemes aimed at em­pow­er­ing ru­ral women – too com­pli­cated by half.

All we want to do is ban all forms of boat­ing here. No ex­cep­tions. Poach­ers and peo­ple who buy from them will be forced to eat their catches on the spot. Then they will be put in stocks on the slip­way, and small chil­dren will be en­cour­aged to throw rocks at them.

It may seem ex­ces­sive, un­pop­u­lar even, but, you know, one day, you’ll thank us.

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