Western Cape Nature Conservation Board Scientific Services

Wes-Kaapse Natuurbewaringsraad 
Wetenskaplike Dienste

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Freshwater fishing and the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board

Thank-you for your letter to our organisation which I received dated 28 May 2002. In your letter are various questions about freshwater angling which I shall attempt to answer but keep in mind that I cannot speak on behalf of the other provinces.

In answer to your questions, the following:

Q1. Why should I buy so many licences to fish waters that are close to one another?

Being an angler myself, I understand the frustration of freshwater anglers now needing to obtain a potential nine freshwater angling licences (one per province) instead of the four required prior to 1994. I understand that several provinces are keen to phase out freshwater fishing licenses, so you will need to confirm which ones still require licenses and which don’t and then communicate these to freshwater anglers via your web-site or in an article in an angling magazine.

Q2. What licenses are needed and for what waters?

In the W Cape you need a freshwater fishing license, obtainable from our regional offices, to fish rivers and public dams. To fish estuaries, you need the saltwater angling license that is obtainable from Post Offices. Anglers do not need licenses to fish private farm dams.

Q3. What happens to the money and how does the angler benefit?

Our freshwater fishing license costs R35 for 12 months fishing and the money received comes directly back to our organisation. At the moment, relatively few anglers have purchased licences so the income we receive is small. However, we are aware that the potential revenue from licenses is large in this province and could easily exceed R150 000 per annum if we enforce the license and obtain the support of anglers. It is our intention to use this money for river and freshwater fish conservation work, which would include education, and awareness programmes for anglers. It is important to note that ecologically healthy rivers generally mean good angling opportunities.

Q4. What provinces actually have fisheries officers?

I don’t know of any provinces with fisheries officers nowadays. The four provinces had them prior to the 1980’s, mainly in their nature conservation departments, when their focus was different. Back then, they did a lot of fish farming and stocking of fishes, mainly of alien species such as largemouth bass and rainbow trout.

The focus now is different. Nature Conservation departments use their limited finances to do nature conservation work and often leave management of fisheries to angling clubs. For example, we have been very successful in working closely with local angling organisations such as the Cape Piscatorial Society whereby they manage flyfishing for trout in areas that we manage as nature reserves.

Q5. What is being done about all the gillnetting?

We appreciate that this is a growing problem country-wide and is exacerbated by insufficient law enforcement staff. Gill netting is not however a major problem in W Cape rivers or dams. Anglers can play a very positive role by reporting incidents of gill netting in rivers, estuaries or dams to the local conservation or police office. Gill netting has the potential to do major damage to our riverine fishes, especially to species that migrate a lot like the various yellowfish species.

Q6. When does one ever see any form of policing of the waters?

We would all like to see more policing to ensure that our waters and their fishes are properly conserved and managed. However, this costs money and nature conservation departments are generally all under-staffed at present. So the situation is unlikely to change in the near future.

From our side, we would like to see more anglers becoming environmentally friendly anglers and taking an active stand against those that:

Litter and pollute rivers
Stock fish into waters without permits
Do not adhere to legislation regarding catching fishes
(e.g. bag limits, size limits)
Use illegal gill nets or spearguns to catch fishes in inland waters
Angle without permission on the property of others

It is clear that if we work together, a lot more can be achieved than if we act in opposition to one another. Less policing is necessary if anglers obey the law and work closely with the local nature conservation agency.

Q7. Which provinces have easy to understand ordinances?

I can’t answer this question although I imagine that many ordinances may be difficult to read or comprehend for the layman. Perhaps, someone from the angling fraternity with a legal background should be tasked to properly summarise those parts of the nine different ordinances that affect the freshwater angler. This could be publicised through the clubs, in angling magazines, and on web-sites to better inform anglers.

Q8. Where does one get a license?

I can’t answer you for other provinces, but in the W Cape you get them from our regional offices (see attached contact numbers). Some angling clubs and resorts also provide them and we are working at ways to make them more freely available e.g. from Post Offices.

I hope these answers help clarify a difficult situation. In this province, we would like to work more closely with freshwater anglers for the common good. I visited England four years ago and was very impressed with the major financial contribution of anglers (via licences) towards river and freshwater fish management as well as the excellent relationship between anglers and staff of their Environment Agency.


Yours sincerely

Mr N.D. Impson
For Manager: Scientific Services

Copies: Mr Fanie Bekker
Dr Kas Hamman
Cape Piscatorial Society
Western Province Artlure Association

Click here for a full list of places where licences can be bought http://www.capenature.org.za/permits


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