The illegal jigging at Port St. Johns continues right now
Port St. Johns: Its no secret. Its been done out in the open. Government officials are nowhere in the struggle against it. Who is going to put a stop to the slaughter? Luckily there are some moral and concerned people at least trying. This from Vernon Maylon. PSJ local. – Xona
ILLEGAL JIGGING PORT St. JOHNS
It was around mid July 2020 when the first signs of illegal jigging was noticed in Port st Johns. Pictures of 16 Garrick, neatly laid out surfaced on social media around the same time. Almost immediately after
that the banks of the river in the vicinity of the mouth was lined with fishermen, their fishing action clearly indicating that they were jigging. This form of fishing is illegal and highly disruptive to fish, in particular the large shoals of Garrick which enter the estuary on their way past, during their migration up and down the Wild Coast. At any one time, at least 6 fishermen were ‘ON’ landing huge fish, both fat with eggs and others that had already spawned. A large number of fish caught legally (using bucktail Jigs and other legal lures) displayed injuries were they had been false hooked and their flesh shredded from their bodies.
Other fish were landed by hooking into line and hooks broken off and still protruding out of these fish. Estimates are that at least 50 fish were caught illegally every day during this time, some days this figure would go over 100. The devastation is incomprehensible. The local community and social
media were up in arms and a lot of pressure was placed on DAFF to act. Towards the end of July a couple of DAFF officers arrived in Port st Johns was this proved to be very embarrassing to say the least.
This officer clearly did not know or understand the laws and proceeded to charge fishermen who were actually fishing legally. This too was posted all over social media resulting in the public throwing up their
arms in total dismay and anger. This obviously caused DAFF huge concern because, within a few days of this happening, a huge contingent of DAFF officers and SAPS arrived in Port st Johns.
Tackle and fish
were confiscated. A jetski was used to check all boats using the river. Boats returning from sea were thoroughly inspected. Roadblocks were set up on the routes out of town where vehicles were thoroughly searched. This resulted in a huge reduction in the illegal jigging activities. Hats off to DAFF for taking swift action to nip this in the bud. The huge concern now is that DAFF keeps their presence in the area to ensure this activity does not start up again. Already, signs of illegal jigging are surfacing here and
there. Locals hands are tied because if they object they are threatened with violence. Without DAFF here, the locals are powerless.
During these two weeks of jigging and DAFF’s presence here, Spotted Grunter Resort had fishing celebrities Craig Thommasen and Wes Peens staying over for a shoot for Supersport. They witnessed this activity and it would be a good idea to contact them for an educated insight into this incident and exactly what effect it has on these fish. Local scientist, Paul Cowley was also fishing on the river, he happened to hook a fish that had a jigging trace trailing it. Craig Thommassen can give you precise details of this.
It is somewhat understandable why some local fishermen would resort to this method of fishing. Covid has resulted in depriving many households from any form of income and they have to resort to this way
of fishing to put food on the table.
One can sympathise with this. However, it is no secret that buyers from the major cities outside of Port st Johns have created a market for these fish which are being transported out of town by the bakkie load. It is also a known fact that DAFF is under resourced and lack proper skilled personnel. This is where immediate action is required. DAFF must control this situation and keep it under control otherwise, as the people in know will confirm, these fish will stop coming to Port st Johns. DAFF have clearly displayed that they can act and bring the situation under control, and they need to be praised for this, but pressure has to be put on them to keep it up.
STOP PRESS: from Vernon in PSJ right now, jiggers are lining the bank and taking full advantage of the fact that DAFF just cannot keep up. Please, anyone who knows anyone at DAFF, put the pressure on! These fish are at their most vulnerable right now!