Poaching equipment destroyed
VOLUNTEERS of the local North Coast Anti- poaching Group in Richards Bay recovered a small boat with fishing gear and a number of prohibited fish during their routine patrols on Monday morning near the Steel Bridge in Meerensee.
In the wake of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife marine coastal monitors being disbanded, a handful of Richards Bay residents have formed the anti-poaching group, taking it upon themselves to rid the Bay’s waterways of illegal gill netting.
According to KZN Ezemvelo District Conservation Officer Phumla Zulu, members of the anti-poaching group discovered the boat at about 8am, but the fisherman had escaped.
The equipment was recovered and taken to the Richards Bay police station, and the fish is being kept at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ storage facility.
Working with law enforcement, the group has in the past also removed numerous gill nets, prawn nets, removed almost two tons of fish from the nets and assisted in illegal fishing boats being confiscated.
While poachers remain a threat and are blatantly harvesting fish by the hundreds in the Richards Bay Harbour and sanctuary areas, Zulu said they were grateful for the community’s involvement in patrolling the estuary, rivers and lakes.
‘Since 2016 illegal boats and fishing gear recovered have been kept at Richards Bay SAPS, but on Monday KZN Ezemvelo and SAPS held an operation to remove and destroy them.
‘Our fear was that owners would attempt to retrieve their equipment and craft from the SAPS grounds, causing the poaching to continue.
‘We received permission this year to remove the equipment and dispose of it.
‘We were not able to remove everything with our four vehicles and Red Metals in Richards Bay sponsored a truck to transport the haul for disposal,’ said Zulu.
The makeshift boat, fishing nets and fish found near the Steel Bridge in Richards Bay