Poaching equip­ment de­stroyed

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO NEWS - Conelia Harry

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

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