Monthly Spearfishing Report October 2008

Conditions

Certainly a better start to the month as far as diveable water goes despite the overcast rainy conditions over the first weekend. The Border Open was extremely lucky with very strong winds before and directly after the competition weekend but good conditions for the comp day. Still a fairly windy month along the Natal coast with a number of westerly fronts coming up from the cape and some rain associated with these fronts. The inshore sea temperatures still hanging around the low twenties according to shark board reports but November is normally the time to change to summer 3mm suits here in Natal.

Fishwise

There have been a lot of grunter about with the Barge off Virginia airport a prime spot. Only problem here is that 99% of the time you will find fishing boats or ski fishermen here and it would not really be fair to dive when they are fishing. Plus who needs arguments when enjoying a day out on the ocean. Reports of the odd garrick coming out from point divers but not a very thick run as yet. The Deep Scottburgh reefs holding plenty of bottoms when conditions are right and probably one of the better spots to dive if you have access to a boat.

Marine and Coastal Management

Seems like this government department is now running in the black again but at what cost to the environment with budgets cut drastically. Expenditure in 2004/5 was 340 million and has now dropped to 257 million for 2007/8. This means budgets for compliance, fisheries management and fisheries research are a lot less than they should be especially if you bring inflation into the equation.

Banning

Lots of mails going back and forth regarding the possible banning of spearfishing in South Africa which was never on the cards but certainly got the flag flying. Plenty of useful suggestions and the odd not so useful but good to see everyone rising to the occasion. The ideal scenario would be a world wide register for spearfishermen from all over the world.

Economic impact of Recreational Fishing

In the States fishing and related businesses earned 125 billion us dollars and provided more than 1 million jobs in 2007. In South Africa approx 2.5 million anglers spent 18.8 billion rands on their sport. It is estimated that the economic impact of sport and recreational angling is at least 40% larger than that of commercial fishing here in South Africa.

Launch Site Access

At last the powers that can are set to take action against launch sites that restrict access to the privileged few. This has been an ongoing bone of contention with regard to two launch sites in particular on the Natal north coast. A pity that some sea users have to behave as though they own the ocean with this type of attitude only causing conflict and bad feelings.

World Spearfishing Championships

A bad start unfortunately on day one with Jaco being disqualified for having a fish strung on his body. This was a great pity as he would have placed second overall on day one just 1.5% behind the winner. Gyula managed two fish and Allen had no luck. Day two saw more bad luck with both Gyula and Allen initially dis-qualified after nine teams were told to start before the time. This was later sorted out but by then it was too late. Jaco had a reasonable day still managing to hold his own against the best in the world and would have retained his second place which shows how talented this spearfisherman is. Overall we placed tenth out of twenty-one countries and individual placings were 14, 38, 41 for Jaco, Gyula, Allen respectively.  Well done guys, despite all the problems you still did us proud.

Crocodile Attack, Lake Kariba

On 3 May 1999 Gary Lieberman was diving in the mid afternoon on Antelope Island point, Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe with his diving buddy Torben Laugeson.  He was on a rocky bottom at approximately 15 foot when at the end of his breath he looked around to see a large 10-12 foot croc approaching.  Unfortunately he could not traverse his spear gun and as he left the bottom the croc attacked biting his left leg as he broke surface.  He managed to open its jaws but it then broke his left arm while rotating him wildly.  So, he stuck his right arm down its throat, it then broke his right arm.  He managed to get hold of his knife but his wrist was useless.  The croc then got hold of his right leg and held Gary under the surface.  Torben bravely jammed his speargun into the crocs mouth stopping the attack and luckily Torben managed to get Gary back into the boat.  This croc also attacked the float line buoy aggressively.  This attack put Gary into intensive care for a week and a very long recovery period.

Trip List Tanzania

Andrew Henwood and I will be spearfishing in Tanzania as guests of Eric Allard from the 1 to 10 November. The plan is to dive Latham banks off Dar es Salaam and then head for some of Eric’s spots off Tanga in northern Tanzania. We will be taking the following spearfishing gear. Two guns each both rigged on break-away systems, 1.3 Freedivers guns and 1.4 Rob Allen. Guns rigged with slip-tips and another spare spear per gun with normal barbs. We will be diving with 40m buoy lines with a 5m bungie onto an 11lt foam filled float then a 20m bungie onto a 35lt blow-up float. Will give some feedback in the next report on how these rigs faired. We have already pool tested these guns and found them fairly accurate at maximum range with roughly a six inch spread that narrows down to about three inches at four meters range. The slip-tip rig proved to be the most accurate when compared to the single barb system. Safe diving,

Safe diving, John.