YELLOWFISH WORKING GROUP - YWG February 2021 newsletter

February 2021

 Dear YWG supporter,

If you are an ardent yellowfisher whose favourite destinations lie in the Orange/Vaal system or most of the summer rainfall area you have probably stored your rods away and await for the flood waters to subside. That is unless you are lucky enough to get to Sterkfontein Dam or the Bokong River above Katse.

So, in the meantime here is the latest news from the YWG team.

 

Saving the Sandfish Project

We have been waiting for the news from Jeremy Shelton’steam on this project. His video arrived today, episode 3, taken when they visited the Biedouw valley in the Cederberg to observe the Spring migration of the remnants of this once thriving sandfish population. To watch it click here.

The Vanderkloof Dam research project.

In the last newsletter we informed you that the research project had come to an end and that the data was being analysed prior to the final report/s being issued.  We therefore approached Rhodes University and received the following statement from Dr Warwick Sauer:

“You are correct that fieldwork ceased at the end of last year and the analysis was initiated - the draft reports are complete and currently with the Advisory Committee - One of these is the economic model which has a dashboard so it can be interactive - in other words, it is possible to change the gears type and number, number of trips per month, pricing etc. and then see what this does to the bottom line. It also has a section that shows the anticipated catch per species, allowing this information to be used to understand the ecological impact of different decisions, and also relate this to the biological report.  This will be helpful in looking at different options.  I would very much have liked a face-to-face meeting of the Advisory Committee to then go through all the reports, but especially the economic model, and explore different scenarios - we will need to look at how to make this possible - perhaps a limited number.

So, the next steps are for the Advisory Committee to go through these - we will then edit/amend as per the feedback. Then the idea is for the Advisory Committee to meet and go through the information, explore options, and ultimately advise the Northern Cape Government on the outcome. In terms of the initial timelines, this should be complete by the end of March, but with COVID I would guess the deliberations might take a bit longer.”

Dr Sauer also mentioned that he hoped after the Advisory committee had made recommendations to Government that a fully consultative process would take place. Although the university were tasked just to look at the fishery they believed there should be a holistic approach in terms of income generation such as eco-tourism and an aquaculture initiative which they had proposed.

 SA Human Rights Commission – Sewage Problem of the Vaal River by Chris Williams

Following the SAHRC Inquiry of September 2018 at which FOSAF/YWG testified on behalf of fly fishers, on 17 February 2021 the SAHRC finally submitted their report-back in a live Webinar at which we again reiterated our position for/on behalf of fly fishers.  The SAHRC’s findings are very scathing of the Emfuleni Local Municipality and the latter has been placed under administration by the Department of Water and Sanitation. SAVE The Vaal Environment are pursuing litigation against offending parties and individuals in the High Court. We will keep you posted of any progress of the Government getting our river environment back to globally acceptable water quality levels. For further details click here..

Water Lettuce – Suikerbos/Vaal Rivers by Chris Williams

This noxious weed originated in South America and the Nile River. It is a Category 1B NEMBA Alien/Invasive plant and is thus to be removed wherever present in South Africa. Mpumalanga and KZN in particular are also affected by this warmwater aggressive invader. The leaves are toxic to humans and animals. The weed takes oxygen and nutrients from the water thus depriving indigenous fish and organisms. This and it’s blanketing of sunlight leads to eutrophication of the water which Rand Water are charged with cleaning up. However, like water hyacinth, once water lettuce is present it is virtually impossible to eradicate. With our recent rains and opening of the Vaal Dam sluice gates, this weed has now spread from the confluence of the Suikerbos and Vaal Rivers to further downstream. As yet, scientists do not have detailed data on the full effects of water lettuce on our river, environment or fish.  We will keep in communication with Rand Water and in turn will keep you up-to-date on developments. For further details click here.

World Fish Migration Foundation.

To visit the new website of this important organization click here. And you can register for the African Swimways Webinar on 25/02/2021 by by clicking here..

 Kind regards,

Peter

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