The Herald (South Africa)
Positive use of alien bass beats eradication attempts
THE senseless murder of angler Clint Ovrenovits at Swartkops River this week has shocked the community at a time of year when all we want is to relax and enjoy what the festive summer season has to offer.
Outstanding police work has already seen suspects being apprehended, but it will not bring Clint back.
This has been a cold-blooded killing of an innocent person minding his own business and it appears that common robbery and theft of a motor vehicle was the motive.
Meanwhile, there are many farm dams in and around Port Elizabeth that have healthy bass populations.
That they are mostly on private land needs to be respected and, with the correct approach, access can be gained in order to fish these little treasures.
Recently I was sent a photograph of a healthy largemouth bass caught in the St Albans area by Graham Moolman.
Bass are ferocious predators that tolerate no competition. They guard their nests where the eggs have been fertilised and attack anything that moves there.
These fish are caught on any artificial bait presented mimicking anything edible or posing a threat.
Most dams have awesome structure that allows bass to breed; however, no other fish make it in the same environment.
For this reason bass are seen as alien and there are moves to eradicate them from water systems around the country.
Previously, I have written about this eradication strategy and the use of different techniques. But I fail to see how it can be achieved. The side-effects of damage done to the targeted systems will also be irreversible for all forms of water life that live there.
We need to move on with ideas that will look at the positive utilisa- tion of these so-called alien fish species.
Trout is another species that has been introduced to this country and both these species are sought after angling species that generate a huge sale of tackle and accessories amongst many other forms that add to the land’s economy.
Bass are well populated and the eradication idea is just not possible.
Ways to save threatened species will have to be devised and implemented in systems where alien species must not be introduced.
The law of gravity and rivers and irrigation dams that overflow into water systems will always be sources that contaminate lower lying rivers with alien fish, and hence the impossible task to contain these fish.
The laws designed to protect water systems from the introduction of alien species has failed too, as nature works 24/7.
Targeting these private dams and eradicating the species there is on the cards and again we stand the chance of losing precious recreational facilities that also generate income for land owners across the country.
On paper these ideas shine but they are simply not practical. The breeding of sexless fish means populations can be better controlled as is the case with trout in the form of the “triploids”.
These fish that escape can then never pose a long-term threat to the invaded systems by establishing new communities that well develop there.