Monthly Spearfishing Report March 2008

Monthly Report – March 2008

Conditions

Tropical cyclone Jokwe was sitting in the middle of the Mozambican channel on the 10 March having wreaked havoc on the northern Mozambique coast with winds of over 100 knots. With equinox tides due a big swell could spell trouble for the already battered coast of KwaZulu Natal. Weather fairly settled with no major blows but big surf from the cyclone in the channel affecting diving adversely along our coast. Some fair diving conditions along the north coast during the month despite the big surf. On the south coast Hibberdene to Shelly Beach had some very good water for a number of days during the month with Protea Banks also having excellent conditions.

Fish-Wise

Natal snoek on the north coast when conditions allow but plenty of shark activity even on the shallow reefs. Aliwal Shoal having some good cuda and wahoo action mid-month with plenty of fish landed by divers and fishermen. Umdloti area providing spearos with gamefish action when warm clean water moves in and some good sized cuda were taken. The deep water pinnacles off Sezela holding big tropicals and spearos having a field day when conditions are right. Alan Fraser having a scary moment on a shore dive off Umzumbe when a great white shark had a determined close look at him. Alan managed to make the beach before things got too difficult.

East-Coast Rock Lobster

The season runs from 1 March to 31 October and the license fee is R75 obtainable from any post office. Do not know if the post office is able to capture the data regarding licenses sold yet but in days past when lobster licenses were under the control of the then Natal Parks Board, roughly 7000 licenses were sold annually at the peak. Eight per person per day and no stock-piling allowed which seems an unreasonable rule to me and seems to have a hint of pre-judgment in it. Why should you not be allowed to keep a couple of days catch if you have a valid license and are catching the lobster in a legal manner?

Honorary Parks Officers

If you want to be a policeman wear a policeman’s hat is how the saying goes. My experience with honorary parks is that in some way they always have a personal axe to grind and you are always guilty. Some sheriff in the Ballito area was trying to force guys with lobsters in nets to let them go as you are not allowed to hang them on your buoy. Luckily the water was not good so few divers were hassled but this guy needs his pencil blunted and should know the rules if he plans to enforce them.

Shark Controversy

A fisherman who recently caught three Tiger sharks apparently inside the Aliwal Shoal MPA is to be charged. It has caused an outcry in the scuba fraternity and since tiger sharks are protected within MPA’s this fisherman could be in for a big fine if the case against him stands up in court. There are reports of dwindling shark numbers in this area and much of the blame is being placed on fishermen. I have been spearfishing in this area for over twenty years and have never seen more sharks than there are now. The un-natural feeding of sharks has caused an influx of sharks into the area and this is putting pressure on the sharks and making them more aggressive than is normally the case. Aliwal Shoal might have too many scuba divers visiting it and as there is no control on the number of scuba divers visiting the Shoal this is something that needs to be looked at. Ragged tooth sharks are one of the main attractions for scuba divers at Aliwal Shoal but too many divers disturbing them all the time is definitely going to drive them off to greener pastures. It would make sense to sink another artificial reef in the area to take the pressure off the Shoal a bit.

Cyclone Link

Here is a good site for monitoring cyclones that occur in our region. Most years the Mozambican coast experiences cyclones but South Africa is lucky in that few of these cyclones travel down as far as our coast and the only effects we experience are the large swells generated by these systems. http://en.allmetsat.com/images/cyclones-indian-south.php

Nationals 2008 Teams

Here are the Southern KwaZulu Natal and Midlands spearfishing sides for Nationals 2008.

SKZN
A team
– Gyula Plagianyi, Alan Fraser, Brent Borstlap.
B team
– Carl Werner, Dieter Bosinger, Gareth Staats.
C team – Simon Summerton, Calvin Moore, Nicolas Englebrecht. Vets – Paul Putter, Brent Addison, Ferro Van Greunen.

Midlands A team – Gregg Audie, Andrew Henwood, John Little.
B team
– Greg Bisset, Danie Van Huyssteen, Hardus Bouwer.
C team
– Craig Burmeister, Alex Rice, Paul Ferguson.

Equinox and Easter

Easter is an annual festival observed throughout the Christian world. The date for Easter shifts every year within the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar is the standard international calendar for civil use and replaced the Julian calendar put in place by Julius Caesar. Easter falls on the first Sunday following the ecclesiastical full moon (determined from tables) that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox. The vernal equinox is fixed as March 21 resulting in that Easter can never occur before March 22 or later than April 25.

Fishing Ban for the Harbour

Port authorities have issued a warning to all fishing clubs that fishing from boats in the Durban harbour is to be stopped. Reason being given is security which does not make much sense as the Port of Durban has one of the highest incidences of stowaways in the World and is known for its lack of security.

World Spearfishing Championships

The World Spearfishing Championships are to be held from 23 to 26 October 2008 at Isla Margarita, Venezuela. As in the previous two Worlds there will be a women’s invitational tournament. Three times world champion, Pedro Carbonell, has already been to Venezuela two times this year. The competition will be dived over two days and the South African team probably has a better chance of placing well in these Worlds when compared to other Worlds. This is due to the fact that some of the team members are able to go over some time before the competition to scout. All of the top spearfishing nations spend a huge amount of time and money on scouting with other nations not having the time or money to follow suit. With South African spearfishermen used to hard diving conditions we could definitely hold our own with the Worlds best if the playing fields were the same for all the competitors.

Safe diving, John.