Growing levels of illegal fish harvesting in North West are crippling fish populations in the province.
While fishing with nets is limited to fishing cooperatives with permits, illegal nets have become a common sight in many local dams, with local fishing cooperatives losing most of their catch to illegal harvesters.
Dennis Kealeboga Mogotlha’s net fishing cooperative has been hard hit by illegal fishing.
He says they sometimes don’t get any fish due to illegal nets.
“There are people who come here with nets at night. They go into the water and put their nets across the dam. Sometimes when we get here, we don’t get any fish or just find our nets stolen. This causes divisions between us because we end up blaming and accusing each other as valid permit holders,” says Mogotlha.
Intensified policing against illegal nets
Meanwhile, local authorities have intensified policing against unregulated net fishing as it poses a significant threat to fish populations and the greater aquatic ecosystem.
Cindy Zwane, the Regional Manager from the Directorate of Biodiversity Management, says they only issue net for project and not for individuals.
“We only have two projects in this dam of which they know where exactly they must put their nets. But now, to our surprise, the whole dam is full of nets. We only issue nets for projects, not individuals. If you don’t have a permit, we give you a fine of R750 if you are a first offender.”