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Sate of the ocean  Rate Topic 
 
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 Posted: Mon Aug 8th, 2011 09:19 pm
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landshark
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Joined: Fri Nov 23rd, 2007
Location: Cape Town
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Mana: 
Rather make that State of the ocean :fbash



Reading some of the other, often very heated, discussions in some of the other forums on Sealine, I notice a real concern (sometimes mixed with ignorance) with regards to fish numbers.

Unfortunately I think there are too many variables that we may miss and the number of spearo's are just too small to make a big enough sample for scientific analysis, yet I think that we do get a good feel for what is happening under the sea in the respective areas that we dive frequently.

So my questions: What have you seen and what is your gut feel with regards to the fish numbers where you dive?

Last edited on Mon Aug 8th, 2011 09:21 pm by landshark

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 Posted: Mon Aug 8th, 2011 09:22 pm
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landshark
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Joined: Fri Nov 23rd, 2007
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Mana: 
Here's a few things I have seen and what I think they could mean. This is based on the Western Cape area which I dive the most - Melkbos through to Arniston with the majority of time spent in False Bay.

The good news:
White Mussel Cracker numbers seem to be increasing in the False Bay area.
Red Steenbras seem to be moving in as well.
Red Roman - lots of juveniles hopefully mean their numbers are bouncing back.
I think that certain section of coast is in for a very decent run of Bellman in the near future.

The bad news:
Galjoen numbers really seem to be down
Is it just me or are there a lot less of the Cat Shark family around?
Zebra numbers seem to be staying the same with very few about.

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 Posted: Tue Aug 9th, 2011 09:05 am
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Stoff
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Joined: Fri Mar 4th, 2011
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
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Mana: 
Hi Landshark
I've dived in the PE area quite a bit in both fished areas and marine parks..there definitly is a difference between the two, especially when it comes to the resident reef fish species like red roman,wildeperd etc.So from my experience if I have to compare the difference in areas that are fished vs protected I have noticed a change in species numbers and size class, but this is also related to the age of the reserve.I noticed a similar trend at miller's point. My opinion is we need more marine parks as the spillover will invariably lead to greater fish numbers outside the reserve. approximately 15% of SA's coastline is protected which is cool and diving inside these parks you'll realise why we need to have some areas protected.

 

Last edited on Tue Aug 9th, 2011 09:14 am by Stoff

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 Posted: Wed Aug 10th, 2011 04:37 pm
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Adrian B
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Joined: Wed Mar 3rd, 2010
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
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Mana: 
Hi Landshark

Do yourself a favour one day. Leave your speargun in the car and take a swim out to the small blinder in the reserve to the right of Millers point and see what False Bay should really look like. Helps if the water is above 12 degrees but even in ice the fish are still abundant even sizable Bankies which are almost extinct in False Bay besides at Whittle, not 1 but shoals of 4 -5 fish.

(Take a swim in any well protected MPA that has been in existence 20 years plus if you get the opportunity)

It's difficult to appreciate what is going on if you haven't seen what it was like before fishing took place (line, spear, what ever all combined), especially False Bay (used to dive it from one side to the other 3 times a week sometimes).

The other problem is the more you dive an area the better you get to know the hot spots and as a result the more you begin to see which doesn't necessarily mean their is more around, you have just got better at avoiding the areas that are devoid of life.

Indecently ORI has done research in Natal on Spearfishing. If my memory serves me correctly spearos account for about 1% of the line fish catch in Natal and of that 1 percent roughly half are made up of game fish.

But before we pat ourselves on the back this result is skewed due the weather and poor viz, go dive an area like  the Aliwal shoal -Scotburgh area which probably receives the most spearing pressure in SA (due to the water being clean more often) by some of SA most proficient spearo’s you will see what Spearfishing can do.

Their are hardly an edible reef fish (non line species Bankies, Rubber lips, tassles, knifejaws so we can’t blame line fishing) above 800g above the 22m mark. Past 22m fish start appearing because the average jappie can’t clap them that deep. (Yes the local okes have some spots shallower that produce but lets face it their is loads of good reef that has nothing on in 18 -20m).

I used to dive a hell of a lot but now I only get 4 weeks a year to dive (mostly east of St Francis into Moz) and most places I dive I have noticed a reduction in size and abundance of Fish. (and even if my catch is one resident fish in that area I must shoulder a portion of the blame even if small) In some places it has been drastic others not so bad. I’ve also got older and fatter so that may contribute to me seeing less fish!

Last I was diving Arniston and the Garden route (2003) stumps were abundant (if you had the urge you could have shot your 5 a day, I often did) now the Bag limit is one per day. Even had a day in False Bay when my boat took 7. When last has somebody shot a Stump in False Bay?

Haven’t been down your side for a while but I would be interested to know if the Stumps are still full up at Arniston? (even saw a 5kg one on Roman rock once)

The one good thing about Spearfishing is that you can choose what you going to take home i.e. no bi –catch. I used to clap the fish and didn’t go home until my quota was full. These days I only shoot what I eat in a few weeks e.g. now I shoot 1 x 10kg Cracker instead of 2 Cracker and five Parrots, 2 Bronzies and what ever else is available to fill my limit. A competent spearo in good conditions (outside of False Bay) can still fill quota quite easily off a boat)

Don’t get me wrong if you can eat 10 tail (fast growing, stock status good) by all means do so but the reality is a good number of the guys clapping the tail sell them (unless things have changed since I left CT, not being self righteous sold some myself).

Problem is if you see fish in Rands and Cents you will never get to the stage where you will let one swim past the end of your gun.

Likewise you can’t expect everybody to adopt my point of view “Limit their catch instead of catching their limit”. A lot of education is involved and some people have the attitude of I’ll get mine before somebody else will.

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 Posted: Wed Aug 10th, 2011 05:04 pm
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pr0t0c0l
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Mana: 
Well said Adrian, I certainly agree with your sentiments.

I myself have dived millers numerous times. I then, without my gun, decided to see what the reserve next millers looked like in comparison. Amazing! I have never seen such massive blacktail in my life. 4-5kg range. We also saw a red stump and a steenbras not to mention the usual stuff like roman. As soon as you swim out of the reserve though, the abundance of fish changes DRASTICALLY.

So I for one am quite happy that MPA's do actually work. Many reef fish are resident to specific areas and don't move around a lot. This either tends to them getting cleared out, or, if the area is declared an MPA, them being preserved. Just think about how rare yellowbellies are these days in false bay. It's because when commercials and recreationals find a reef where they are they nail it until all the yellowbellies are gone. Yellowbellies don't move around, they stay on one reef. And that, as unfortunate as it may be, is the reason for their scarcity.

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 Posted: Wed Aug 10th, 2011 05:05 pm
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pr0t0c0l
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Mana: 
Well said Adrian, I certainly agree with your sentiments.

I myself have dived millers numerous times. I then, without my gun, decided to see what the reserve next millers looked like in comparison. Amazing! I have never seen such massive blacktail in my life. 4-5kg range. We also saw a red stump and a steenbras not to mention the usual stuff like roman. As soon as you swim out of the reserve though, the abundance of fish changes DRASTICALLY.

So I for one am quite happy that MPA's do actually work. Many reef fish are resident to specific areas and don't move around a lot. This either tends to them getting cleared out, or, if the area is declared an MPA, them being preserved. Just think about how rare yellowbellies are these days in false bay. It's because when commercials and recreationals find a reef where they are they nail it until all the yellowbellies are gone. Yellowbellies don't move around, they stay on one reef. And that, as unfortunate as it may be, is the reason for their scarcity.

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 Posted: Thu Aug 11th, 2011 07:07 am
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Adrian B
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Mana: 
Yip, it's like somebody has taken a ruler and drawn a line through the kelp on the one side is fish and the other very little.

Even a small MPA is it's policed properly yields amazing results.

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 Posted: Thu Aug 11th, 2011 07:42 am
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jmalan
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Mana: 
Well said Adrian.

I was down at Arniston this past weekend and did a shore dive to Roman Rock twice. The viz wasn't great and the water was slight cold, but the concerning thing is that i saw ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!! Not one belman, no red fish, not even blacktail or zebra's. The reef was absolutely depleted of fish.

On my way home I saw two boats coming out of the harbour, filled with 9 spearo's per boat. They appeared to me to be two teams of local commertial spearo's. They didn't stop in the harbour to pff laod their catch and made a quick exit into the fishing village. I saw the one boat working the shallows earlier that morning and couldn't quite figure out what they were up to at that stage.

Putting one and one together, I have to express my concerns about the well-being of the adjasent De Hoop Marine Reserve.

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 Posted: Thu Aug 11th, 2011 07:56 am
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Adrian B
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Mana: 
9 Guys on a boat sounds like Pearlie Poachers to me but I could be wrong.

When I was diving Arniston regulary last (2003) the boundries of the reserve were ill defined and the local commercials fished inshore way beyond where I considered the boundry to be. (Despite the Parkie office at the launch)

Have words with them and the response will be something along the lines of "we'll find where you live". Essentialy intimidation.

Ironicaly having a well functioning MPA next door to their fishing area would actualy improve their catches

Not sure if their boundry co-ordinates in place for Da Hoop especialy the Arniston side? Without GPS co-ordiante or realy prominent land marks the boundries will alwasy be a grey area.

What has worked well in the Border region is that the recreational clubs are actively involved in policing the reserves them selves because they understand the importance of having them.

Collective buying though is no easy task, getting to this situation takes the work of commited induviduals. You will find talk is easy, tangible action is hard to come by.

Getting the recreationals to support this also takes a lot of education.

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