Aliwal Shoal Report by Basie Ackermann

After the Shoal turned on during the last week of October, with warm, clean, game fish - bearing water, it lost momentum during November. Main reason was a drop in temperature down to 21/22deg on average and most days hardly any current, or reverse south-north some days. The visibility was therefore in the 8m range, with cold upwelling, especially after a strong Northeaster .

There were the odd days of warm, clean water coming in with the north south current, with nice size Sailfish, Wahoo, and Dorado coming out.  The Ignobilis are also making their appearance, with Emil Pirzenthal landing one of 42 kg off the Outside Edge.  Big hassle are the abundance of sharks, especially Blacktips, very aggressive and a race to see who gets to the fish first. It is the worst it has been in years, even attacking flashers and obliterating them.

Good news, however, is that, with the right conditions, Shoal is delivering some quality early summer game fish, which gives one hope for a good season.

The situation with regards to the MPA and spearing on the Shoal is as follows:

All the catch regulations of the Parks Board and MCM apply as anywhere else in KZN. The are two zones: Controlled Zone, stretches from Umkomaas River mouth in the North to Umzimai River mouth (just around corner from Rocky Bay), and out to sea on a bearing of 115deg for 7 km's. In this area all spearing is allowed, as anywhere else in KZN.

The other zone, the Restricted Zone (or the Crown areas), includes the wreck of the Produce and the Aliwal Shoal itself. NO spearing allowed on the Produce whatsoever. The Shoal can be dived, but ONLY DEEPER than 25m Isobaths.  This means no spearing on the reef itself, as this is all shallower than 25m. Good news is that the Outside Edge lies along this Isobath and that is where the game fish are. So at least we can still dive where the Shoal produces the best fish.

It is in every spearo's interest not too dive on the reef itself, as there are always many spying eyes with all the scuba divers around. They are for obvious reasons very ofait with the rules of the MPA, and, by them reporting to the powers-that-be, it can only result in banning of all spearfishing anywhere around the Shoal. So please guys, sacrifice those small bottoms on the reef (because that is all that is left) for the bigger game fish on the outside. It is worth it.