Fishing is a much-loved pastime for many Durbanites. Beaches along this coast are dotted with fisherfolk. Their rods swaying against the humid Durban days. A newly-launched fishing app, downloadable to a cellphone, is placing interesting and vital information about a catch, at a fisherman’s fingertips. It has been developed by fisherman and scientist, Dr Bruce Mann from the Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban.
“Quite often when you catch a fish you don’t know what species it is. Using the app you can easily work out what fish that is. Most importantly are the fishing regulations. Nowadays you just cannot find the regulations. So to know how to comply as a responsible recreational angler it’s quite difficult. So this app now has those regulations at the push of a button, so if you catch a fish you can immediately see what the bag limit is, what the size is, is there a closed season?”
Mann says he has been lucky enough to turn his lifelong hobby into a much-loved career and he’s particularly passionate about fish sustainability and responsible fishing. He explains how the app could also be useful for law enforcement officials along the country’s coastline.
“If law enforcement fisheries control officers were able to have this phone in their pocket and they came across some species that were caught by fishermen, if they didn’t know them they could look them up really quickly and work out what the regulations were. And this makes it really easy and simple to do,” he says.
Valentino Maharaj from Phoenix, north of Durban, has been fishing all his life. He also dabbles in competitive fishing. Maharaj says the app provides practical information that can better inform all levels of fisherfolk.
“It helps us to speed up the process of measuring the fish and releasing it at a faster state. So it means it will stay in good health. It’s very informative for South African anglers. It will inform them as well with the capture, our species, the limit and info on how to capture it, its type of food, its staple diet, where you’ll find it, off rocky ledges and deep points, at which times of the year? Very informative.”
The app is available for download for Android and Apple phones. All proceeds are dedicated entirely to the Institute’s Cooperative Fish Tagging Project, which allows scientists to learn critical information about South Africa’s line fish species. Tagging is essential to the management and sustainable use of marine line fish species.