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AfriForum takes on Minister over fish species in Tsitsikamma National Park

February 23, 2017 deur Natasha Venter

AfriForum today sent a document to Edna Molewa, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, in which the organisation expresses its concern over the future of the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area (TMPA). AfriForum is also ready to take legal action in this regard.

This follows after the Minister on 19 December 2016 decided to open 20% of this protected area in the Tsitsikamma National Park for fishing activities. To date the Department has not yet given any rationale for this decision.

“The TMPA is the oldest protected marine area in the world and supplies a unique habitat to endangered and overexploited fish species. It is also one of the biggest breeding areas for these fish and some of these species are endemic. South Africa is already behind other countries concerning protected marine parks. Research shows that aquatic fauna can be seriously damaged if even the smallest fishing activities are allowed,” says Chris Boshoff, AfriForum’s Coordinator for Environmental Affairs.

In the document AfriForum demands that the Minister:

  • appoints a proportional extension in terms of habitat and scientific protection goals, if any area’s status as protected area is taken away, to replace such an area.
  • will provide a comprehensive explanation, including supplying scientific proof, for the decision to allow fishing in the TMPA despite strong public resistance.

AfriForum’s point of view is that the proposed zones that were opened for subsistence fishing will have a negative impact on marine ecosystems within the TMPA. Several marine biologists believe that the Minister did not take scientific proof into account when she made her decision. A negative impact can already be expected within just 30 days of opening the area to fishers. Breeding fish will be captured and local residents will be affected in the long term.

Per a report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF-SA) even allowing limited fishing activities in the TMPA can lead to a 16% decrease in visitors who annually provide an income of approximately R4,7 million for the area. It will also have a negative impact on small-scale commercial fisheries and recreational fishers who currently fish in adjacent areas.

AfriForum opposes the decision due to several environmental impacts contained in the attached report.

SMS your name to 45354 to support the petition (R1).