Tsitsikamma illegal fishermen catch a rude surprise

FISHY SITUATION: One of the men caught fishing illegally at west of the Storms River mouth in the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area, shortly before arrests were made Image: BRUCE HALANA, / SANPARKS
A group of fishermen in the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area reeled in more than they were expecting when they were caught by rangers patrolling the area a week into the Covid-19 lockdown.

In a report on Wednesday, SANParks spokesperson Nandi Mgwadlamba said the rangers had encountered the seven men fishing at the west of the Storm’s River mouth on Sunday.

“They were arrested and taken to the Plettenberg Bay police station, where they were charged with fishing illegally in a restricted zone, and also for breaking the lockdown regulations.

“They were issued a combined fine in terms of both SANParks National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act legislation and police legislation, and released with a warning that they must pay the fine within 30 days.”

The amount of the fine could not immediately be revealed, but the culprits faced being rearrested if they did not pay within that time, she said.

The Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area (MPA), part of the Garden Route National Park, was declared in 1964, and is Africa’s oldest MPA.

In a controversial declaration in 2018, the department of environmental affairs rezoned some parts of the MPA for fishing by Tsitsikamma communities.

Mgwadlamba said it was not clear if the culprits in this case were members of the Tsitsikamma community.

But Boilerplate was not one of the areas that had been rezoned, she emphasised.

BY GUY ROGERS

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