ON THE LINE – EDITORIAL FROM THE FOSAF CHAIR
Pietermaritzburg has had a relatively mild winter thus far. Not quite the brass monkey weather we've got used to over the last few decades. Still it's been cold enough to enjoy the warm glow of the hearth ablaze with wattle and pine.
You will recall that I promised to update you on our meeting with the Department of Environmental Affairs. The meeting happened, we were able to get sight of the proposed Alien and Invasive Species Regulations in terms of NEM:BA, and submitted comment on these in March this year. FOSAF has finally received a reply from the Director General of Environmental Affairs in response to our comments. We have requested further information but the final paragraph of the DG's letter offers some hope. She says: "You have raised a very specific concern that NEM:BA compels the authorities to eradicate listed invasive species. The view of the Department is that management (rather than requiring the eradication) of listed invasive species is consistent with NEM:BA, and this view is confirmed by both the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor legal opinion and independent legal experts. The specialists in the Environmental Programmes Branch responsible for the implementation of the AIS Regulations, have stated that eradication of category 1b species is virtually impossible, given their abundance and propagule dispersal. Even if it were feasible, the marginal cost of eradication is so high, that it would severely limit any capacity to deal with the spectrum of invasive species in the country. The DEA is mindful of the fact that trout poses a lower risk to biodiversity in certain areas, and therefore believes that the concern that trout will be targeted for eradication is neither consistent with NEM:BA nor aligned to the species management priorities and plans of the authorities."
While we remain deeply concerned at the fact that trout will be categorised as invasive (category 1b) there are nevertheless some reasons for optimism: NEM:BA is in the process of being amended to provide space for the exemption of invasive species. This will remove the hurdle to the idea of managing trout by demarcated areas. Secondly, the DG's reply quoted above makes it clear that the DEA simply doesn't have the resources or capacity to ardently follow up on the threats previously made by some officials and purists. Lastly, the DEA will need to work with all stakeholders to develop management plans for each species and FOSAF will play a role in ensuring your interests are taken into account.
FOSAF needs your support to get all of this work done. By joining us your membership fee makes a small contribution to keeping us in a position to get much of this important work done.
In closing, I wanted to share with you a great book for the winter evenings sitting by the fire: Duncan Brown has recently had his new book "Are trout South African" published by Picador Africa. I have found it to be an excellent read covering much of the background to the NEM:BA debate, also mixing in a range of other aspects related to flyfishing and the South African identity. I highly recommend this book to you.
AN UPDATE ON THE STEENKAMPSBERG ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVE (SEI) By Peter Arderne
This project was launched in May 2011 when leading environmental NGO’s such as EWT and Birdlife SA together with FOSAF formed a group to assist the Mpumalanga Tourist & Parks Agency (MTPA) in protecting 196 000 ha of the Dullstroom plateau from mining. FOSAF’s main objective was to protect this major flyfishing resource while the environmental NGO’s and the MTPA were extremely concerned about the threat to the unique biodiversity and network of wetlands. <P>
The first step for the SEI was to apply to the DMR (Department of Mineral Resources) for a Section 49 exemption for the area to provide a temporary moratorium against any further prospecting or mining applications and thereby enabling the project team a 3 year period to apply for Protected Environment status. The application was lodged in August 2011 but
TRAVEL, TIMING AND GETTING LUCKY
LENNY THE LENOK - (Leonard Flemming, Chairman FOSAF Western Cape Chapter)
Travelling is one of the most influential activities in my life. It has been a great learning curve experiencing the mannerisms of other cultures. Besides my curiosity and relentlessness to find answers to the simplest things that puzzle me, walking the streets of other countries has brought me a wealth of knowledge and helped shape who I am. Travel is something that I've never considered to be a part of our need to earn a living, but rather for relaxation. Fishing is the most relaxing thing I enjoy doing, so I travel to fish. Fishing overseas has become a part of my year planner and thinking of it, travel should really be part of every tertiary education curriculum.
After spending several years in other countries where one could catch a fish of a lifetime, I returned to my home in the Western Cape and feared that the fishing there may bore me compared to the perceived greener pastures overseas. The thought of wading a beat on the Smalblaar River for a couple of 16 inch trout, in comparison to hiking a stretch on the upper Rangitata River for 8 lb browns, made me pack away my rods. Instead, I used my spare time to draw up a business plan to secure my financial future. I happened to mention my idea to a mate who suggested I pay a visit to a somewhat un-trusted but successful businessman. Taking his advice I ended up in a frustratingly good position with a small business that grew from a dream to slavery in one year—I being the one getting whipped.
My idea of running my own analytical laboratory service was a long shot, but it worked because the timing was right. Yet, the long hours spent with computer screens, Bunsen burners and test tubes melted my smile to a frown. I have never considered myself a geek, but I started to feel like one. My mind needed an escape. This is when I realised how important my fishing was and that it mattered not where I fished. I had to get out into the mountains to sooth my head with cool river water. Weather websites became the homepage on my browser so that I could watch the weekend weather updates. I had become rather picky, and if I went fishing I thought, I may as well choose a day that is best to catch lots of fish as I probably wouldn't be catching any big ones. Then I also carefully selected my rivers; no run-of-the-mill spots and waters with promising reports from visits by friends. I think I fished only six times this past season, but the outings were so good, I didn't need more.
My first choice was the Little Stream and its 'little' trout were actively feeding in all the pools, pockets, shoots and runs as I had never experienced it before. In fact the fishing was so gripping when the time came for me to pack up my rod it was hard to put it away and instead I ran up a few hundred metres further and hurriedly smacked the best looking water with my fly, which I eventually lost to a tree.
since then despite regular reminders it appears that the DMR has stalled the process. In the meantime the DMR has accepted another 8 applications to prospect in the area and granted a mining right for an open cast coal mine at the head of the Elands River and close to the massive Lakenvlei wetland. All these applications are being opposed by the SEI and in the case of the mining right for the open cast coal mine they have the support of the Centre for Environmental Rights.
In view of the growing threat of mining the SEI has now decided as an interim measure to make an application for Protected Environment status for about 17 000 ha of the Greater Lakenvlei area which is the most threatened area and also the most sensitive. This has meant signing up some 30 landowners to Biodiversity Stewardship Programme and hopefully the application will be submitted for gazetting before the year-end. In addition, to support this application and strengthen the case against mining FOSAF has funded a study of the Dullstroom Tourist industry which was published in May and is available at http://www.fosaf.co.za/tourist.
When we arrived at the estuary, everything was perfect. It must have been as close to tropical flats fishing as we'll ever get in our country. There was no wind, the tide pushed in at noon and the leeries raced after and fought over the fly like a shoal of ravenous GTs.
Although I may never know if all his stories were true, Agent Zero fired a casting stroke that was pure pleasure to watch. The line sliced the air without a sound and unfurled in perfect loops that made a hairpin look twisted. The fish eagerly followed every cast, but they wouldn't touch the fly.
When guiding, I usually carry a spare rod rigged with a trusty back-up fly. I also believe it's not impolite to make a few casts to suss the fish out when the going gets tough for the clients. But on this particular day, my luck was in, or rather my strip was 'in'. The leeries wanted it fast and furious. My demos were quick and to the point; cast, place rod in right arm pit, strip right hand in, left hand down, right hand in, and left hand fish-on, bang! Even after the red-hot fly was tied to the client's tippet, the fish followed it, but refused to eat it.
On the fifth demo (and fifth leerie) the bubbly conversations stopped dead in the water. Agent Zero's remarks about the flies and lack of big fish convinced me that I had lost my tip. My attempts to rescue the situation helped nothing and eventually I was told that the fish had gone somewhere else and that it was time to go.
When we arrived in Cape Town, a bunch of Rand banknotes were shoved in my hand. I always find it somewhat amusing how an entire day spent together in intimate conversation and sharing of knowledge can end so abruptly. We said our farewells with a brief handshake through the driver's window and the grey-haired man in his tank-like 4x4 disappeared around the corner. I skipped up the driveway counting cash and stopped with a big smile on my face. I'd had a great day's fishing and got paid for it.
ARCHIVED COPIES OF THE TIPPET
TIPPET - February 2010
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