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Illegal fishing at dams enrage residents

What seems to be an enjoyable day out fishing (illegally) in the sun at Vygeboom dam for some, is an enormous irritation for the residents living in the upmarket neighbourhood around the dam in Durbanville.

People, mostly from elsewhere, use the dam, as well as Sonstraal and other dams, illegally for fishing on sunny days, over weekends and on public holidays.

Last Tuesday on Youth Day the Vygeboom dam was jampacked with about 15 or more illegal fishermen – most not even bothering to wear masks as is required by Covid-19 regulations.

Residents complain mostly about the antisocial behaviour of these fishermen. “They park their cars – mostly CY and CF registrations – in front of our driveways so that we cannot get out of our driveways,” says one resident, who wanted to stay anonymous.

Someone has also pulled out the sign which prohibits fishing at the dam. It was found laying in the reeds next to the dam. It is unsure when this happened.

“Their children urinate against trees as there are no toilet facilities,” he says. After the perpetrators leave, toilet paper, empty cigarette packets and other litter are laying everywhere. They spoil the dam for us and others who just want to have peace and a quiet picnic at the dam,” he says.

The resident contacted the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement department, that never came out to the dam. He only received confirmation about two days later that they attended to his complaint – with the offensive fishermen long gone.

The very next day the street above the dam was again parked full of vehicles of illegal fishermen.

The conflict between residents and the fishermen is a long time coming.

Fishermen are blamed for leaving behind their fishing line and hooks, which often cause injury to waterfowl. Earlier this year an Egyptian goose had to be put out after its legs were entangled in fishing line and amputation was the only alternative.

In 2005, a moratorium was placed on fishing at City dams after several complaints about anti-social behaviour and injuries to waterfowl.

A compromise was reached in 2007 in which limited and controlled fishing – seasonally between October and April and with the relevant permits – was allowed only at Doordekraal Dam in Durbanville.

After numerous requests the City’s recreation and parks department embarked on a public participation process earlier this year to find a sustainable solution for recreational fishing at open water bodies, which can include stormwater retention dams or ponds, reservoirs, fountains, natural dams, river or catchment areas, wetlands, aquafers and streams.

On inquiry by TygerBurger on the progress of this process, Zahid Badroodien, Mayco member for community services and health, says after the initial public participation process, the recreation and parks department became aware that, in addition to recreational fishing, there are other interest groups who want to utilise open water bodies. “The purpose of the study thus had to be reviewed and a new framework developed,” he says.

The study comprises of two phases, which include data collection of the location, historical use and current use of the respective open water bodies. They also have to gather information on the relevant legislation and regulations and do an assessment of the purpose of the open water bodies, he says.

They also have to consult with various City departments, CapeNature and with the national department of forestry, fisheries and the environment regarding legislation, permit requirements and possible restocking options for recreational fishing purposes, he says.

“The next step will include internal consultation with council and management. A stakeholder database will then be compiled to proceed with a public conceptual survey and awareness campaign.

“The priority now is to gather all the necessary information to hold meaningful public participation engagements to understand the public’s views on recreational uses of the City’s open water bodies.

“It is imperative that a balance is found between recreational activities and the interaction with natural fauna and flora without a negative impact on the ecosystem,” Badroodien says.

On enquiry why the City’s law enforcement officials did not attend to the complaint at the dam on Youth Day, Wayne Dyason, spokesperson, wrongly referred to another unrelated incident a week before.

  • Phone 021 480 7700 from a cellphone and 107 from a landline to report illegal activity.
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