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Vessel launch to clamp down enviro crimes (Knysna estuary)

SANParks is intensifying efforts against environmental crimes in the estuaries in the Garden Route National Park.  Today, a new vessel was launched as part of numerous actions to clamp down on environmental crimes. The new vessel to replace the 10-year old rubber duck is to patrol the Knysna estuary.

Left to right: Werner Jonck, Megan Taplin, Paddy Gordon, Warrant Officer-Francois Cowley, Owen Govender, Dries Engelbrecht

The vessel was named iLINDILE (Xhosa meaning – ‘It awaits’). The 5.8m Infanta rubber duck has two Yamaha 60-horse power, four stroke engines sourced through Knysna Marine.

Speaking at a media launch this morning, Park Manager for the Garden Route National Park, Paddy Gordon introduced Megan Taplin as the new Area Manager for Knysna. He said the Knysna estuary was declared as South Africa’s number 1 estuary in terms of its rich biodiversity.  According to Gordon, ‘it rakes in billions for property agents of people who buy along the water body for its sense of place and is a huge spinner for tourism for water activities.’  According to Barry Clarke and Jane Turpy (independent researchers), the estuary is home to 43% of South Africa’s plant and animal life and supports rare fish species such as the grunter, white steenbras, dusky cob and cape stumpnose. Knysna’s jewel, the estuary, alone contributes some 21, 6% of the total economic value of the 249 national estuaries.’

Senior Section Ranger for Knysna Marine, Owen Govender says the vessel was SAMSA certified under Category C, meaning it complies with all safety requirements and has equipment to enable it to go out to sea and assist other stakeholders if necessary.

‘The Vessel will be used for the following

  • Compliance monitoring patrols
  • Maintenance
  • Research (Internal and external researchers, local and international)
  • Rescue operations
  • Assistance to other stakeholders (SAPS, DAFF, NSRI etc.)’

In terms of the Environmental Crime Statistics in Knysna, the number of fines are on the increase for people collecting bait illegally. Fines were issued in the following areas:

Not having fishing permit available for inspection
Use of a seine net
Fishing without a permit
Exceeding the daily bag limit
Collecting of bait by means other than by hand
Not in possession of invoice for fish bought
Failure to comply with written notice

New Area Manager for Knysna, Megan Taplin said this year’s statistics of what was taken out of the estuary is concerning .The following were extracted illegally from the system between January 2017 and September 2017:

  • 110 Polychaete worm
  • 20 Bloodworms
  • 444 Moonshine worms
  • 50 Cracker Shrimp
  • 330 Mud prawn
  • 2 Garden Forks
  • 1 Spear gun
  • 1 Seine net
  • A number of undersized fish species.

Also in attendance at the vessel launch were General Manager of the Frontier Cluster, Dries Engelbrecht, representatives from the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other agencies assisting with protecting the Knysna estuary.

The Knysna estuary is popular for its various water activities (fairies, boats and vessels, swimming, diving, stand up paddling, dolphin and whale watching among others).

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