YELLOWFISH WORKING GROUP - YWG November/December 2019 newsletter

 Dear YWG supporter,


Here is our last newsletter for 2019:


Saving the Sandfish Project

This project led by Dr Jeremy Shelton of the Freshwater Research Centre is focused on saving the critically endangered Clanwilliam sandfish (Labeo seeberi). Recently his team rescued 600 juvenile sandfish in the lower Biedouw River of the Cederberg region and transported them upstream to pools beyond falls which are a barrier to predator species such as bass. Read Dr Shelton’s article in our archive section by clicking here.. As it is very large file it will take some time to download unless you have fibre.

Sterkfontein Dam

We hear that the TCFF Sterkfontein Experience of the 8th to 10th November produced plenty of fish for the participants but there are concerns about the future of the yellowfish population. Sluices have been opened or will be opened shortly to compensate for the fast dropping levels of Vaal Dam. Not only is this because of the drought, but Katse is now below 15% so no water will be coming from this source for a considerable time.

According to Andre Burger fish isolated in the top coffer dam as water levels drop become very thin as there is little food in this section. Another problem is that low water levels result in many submerged rocks becoming a hazard for boats.

The Second Draft National Freshwater (Inland) Wild Capture Fisheries Policy.

In last month’s newsletter we mentioned that FOSAF had submitted its comments regarding this matter. This document may be accessed by clicking here.

Below are some points made by our national chairman, Ilan Lax with regard to this document:
“I am indebted to Dr Leonard Flemming who undertook some useful research and drafted the bulk of the submission. While our submission mainly covered only a few aspects of the policy, there are still many aspects that require further attention and we will get to these eventually. This policy will inform how recreational anglers and other user groups will be allowed to make use of South Africa’s public freshwater fisheries resources. It is vital for the future sustainability of this important national natural resource that all user groups work together to find equitable solutions to some of the problems we are experiencing. South Africa remains one of the most unequal countries in the world. Bearing this in mind and the enormous needs of ordinary people, it is not surprising that our freshwater fisheries is seen as a possible source of livelihood and subsistence by those in need.

The difficulties we face is that this resource is vulnerable and subject to a variety of pressures which include, pollution from mining, industry, sewerage and solid waste, habitat destruction, water abstraction and many others. The lack of proper and accountable governance and compliance implementation have exacerbated this toxic mix. I have been increasingly alarmed by the levels of antagonism, suspicion and lack of cooperation that prevails in the sector. This is not helpful to finding workable solutions and alternatives or equitable outcomes. These issues and the differing and at times competing needs and interests require a very careful balancing act to ensure the sustainability of this resource. I would suggest that FOSAF collaborates with other stakeholders and with government to ensure that these resources remain viable for future generations. We thus invite all anglers and other stakeholders to work together to pursue and achieve this end”.

Following the release of our document there has been some criticism regarding our lack of support for research to which Ilan replies as follows:

 “FOSAF is being criticised for not supporting research intended to benefit small scale fishers.  This is not correct.  We support the research but not the use of gill nets.  There are other viable alternatives that can and are being used for this research.  This is not a space where simple “either or” binary solutions are applicable.  It can never be a case of “you’re either for us or against us”.  Given the complexities involved, we need to work together with all stakeholders to find meaningful and sustainable solutions that address urgent food security and livelihoods issues while at the same time remaining clear about the need to ensure the viability of the fisheries resource.”

The Mabola Protected area saga.

Although government ministers thought it was acceptable to mine in a protected area it was left to environmental NGO’s to ensure that Atha Africa were not allowed to do so especially as the Mabola Protected Environment is the source of major tributaries of rivers such as the Vaal and Phongola. Having lost in the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal nobody was surprised when the Constitutional Court sent the miners packing.


Enjoy the festive season.

Kind regards,



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