For about two years now Ahmed had struggled with me on Facebook and What's App about fishing in the Estuary while it is closed.
Since 2007 St Lucia Estuary has been closed since a park decision to close the moth after a freak storm surge in the wake of Cyclone Gumede had opened it amids very dry conditions. Gumede was the Cyclone that hit Durban's Golden Mile beach front hard and almost destroyed all the amenities.
Well Ahmed tried and tried again until he bought the bait from the right people and used some local knowledge to his advantage. He took some Tiger prawns from Dolphin Tackle Box an set sails for the Great Lakes of iSimangaliso Wetlands Park with his family and friends.
Recreational fishing for them is part of family bonding and friends team building time. They travel in packs fish little and spend loads of cash as they go. Conscious to leave some for their children they swear they fish only size fish with in their bag limit when fish is available. This is not always the case.
If you look at the money invested in their equipment to suite their family outing and the money spend on a trip one realize that Recreational anglers invest money into an economy and don't harvest for finacial gain. This fishing party with their rig fish to eat, but is hardly ever this successful.
With Zululand being one of the poorest regions in South Africa job creation has turned to Sugar Can farming to feed the poor families. Tourism how ever is much more sustainable, but foreign tourist spends much less at grass root levels since they cannot purchase from the local craftsmen/woman their culture products and produce.
Where as recreational anglers moving through this region in their hordes can. They always buy some sort of matt, bowl or trincket keeping the culture alive by supporting traditional artists and craftsman ship.
In 2001 it was found that Recreational anglers spend so much money in Zululand compared to their catches they make that even after the official catch reports was adjusted twice to accommodate wrong count the avarage price per kilogram of successful catch was roughly about R66 000.00/kg.
This is way more than the cold price and way more than Sugar Cane farming can produce. In 1999 the formal trade Turn Over for St Lucia was given by the Regional Council as R75 000 000.00 per anum. That year the informal sector had a Turnover in the same region estimated at R69 000 000.00. With each artis supporting a family of between 12 and 16 people and at least 3 of them kids at Tertiary Level.
This mean the self employment rate was way better than the un employment rate. Today with the ban on Recreational vehicles on the beaches and so much wild liffe lost to Sugar Cane farming sadly the same subsistence farmers must now turn to child support grant and breed humans just to sustain their families.
If the resources of the 247 000 ha iSimangaliso Wetlands Park is better managed with more emphasis on domestic Tourism these people can be proud of their Heritage and build on their cultural traditions to feed their families. Sadly the impact of World Heritage status has changed this environment and traditional crafts are fast becoming extinct.
But back to Ahmed and his posse. Ahmed had consumed a great deal of hiss catch by the time this article was written and says that the fish caught in The Great Lake of St Lucia tatse much better thAn the fish caught in Durban harbor. This migh well be true since these fish has been caught in the heart of the food source that should populate the Tugela basin with two type of Prawn was this system functioning correctly.
Well done Ahmed hope to see you guys this weekend with Spring tide as we expect more fresh Sea water to wash into St Lucia Estuary and with this interaction brining more fish in and out of the system at the Estuary where the mouth should be.
More about Fishing can be read on Facebool under these popular tags.
St Lucia at a Glance.
Richards Bay at a Glance
Dolphin Tackle Box - Recorded Daily Catches
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