YWG Newsletter: Oct. 2011

Dear All,

We know all about the abuse the poor old Vaal has suffered from pollution emanating from malfunctioning sewage plants and various toxic materials from the mines but it was particularly shocking to learn that a well know fishing destination in the Potch area, Oord Nebo, was quite prepared to tolerate jigging of spawning fish in the shallows. According to the report some 30 fish were caught by this method by persons who arrived in a Mercedes Benz Vito Van and were quite unperturbed when it was pointed out that this was illegal as were the destination owners. The matter is being followed up as the complainants took down the vehicle number, but if anyone has a contact at this venue it will help if you apply the necessary pressure to make them comply with the law.

Other News

  • 1. A meeting of the steering/management committee of the Orange/Vaal Yellowfish Management Conservation Association will be from 10am on Thurs 10 Nov to 12 noon on the 11th at the Sandveld Nature Reserve, Bloemhof Dam. This meeting will be convened by Leon Barkhuizen (barkhl@detea.fs.gov.za) who has taken over the chairmanship of the group from Pierre de Villiers.

  • 2. Rob Karssing reports that a joint operation is being conducted between the DWA, Umgeni Water Board (UWB), Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the University of the North West in terms of implementing the national River Health Programme (RHP) in the KZN province. Budget has been allocated by the DWA this year to determine the ecostatus of 35 preselected sampling sites with the option of a further 70 sites over the next two years depending on DWA budget. EKZNW is doing the fish component of the survey; UWB the in-stream macrophytes, chemical analysis and diatoms; Ground-Truth Consultants the integrity of the riparian vegetation, river geomorphology and production of the final RHP report. Kyle McHugh (doctoral student) and Hannes Venter, both UNW students under the mentorship of Prof. Nico Smit, were assigned by EKZNW to carry out various pathological tests on KZN Yellowfish specimens collected jointly in the field. The KZN Yellowfish is the most ubiquitous fish in KZN with populations ranging between pristine and degraded ecosystems. Fish are considered to be more representative of river health in a system, being longer lived and consequently more expressive of long term environmental pollutants.

  • 3. DMR Minister, Susan Shabangu, still has to decide whether to lift the moratorium on new applications for prospecting licences in Mpumalanga. The moratorium was expected to expire on September 1st but the position is currently under review and an announcement is expected shortly. In the meantime some applicants have got smart and got around the ban by applying for permits to mine without going through the prospecting stage while others have been issued prospecting licences despite the moratorium.

  • 4. From Bridget Corrigan, project leader for EWT's Healthy Rivers programme there is news on the Crocodile-Marico Catchment project which focuses on potential fish sanctuaries and key sites identified by NFEPA. For more information go to https://www.ewt.org.za/homepage.aspx. Bridget also reports on the OV Largemouth Yellowfish-BMP-s project which is assisting the Orange Vaal River Yellowfish Conservation & Management Association (OVRYCMA) in drafting a BMP for L. kimberleyensis. For more information go to the link above.
  • 5. The infamous Secrecy Bill (Protection of State Information Bill) is by no means dead yet and no doubt despite fierce opposition it will once again be presented to us after some minor tinkering. The CER (Centre for Environmental Rights) explains why the proposed Bill in its current form poses a significant threat to transparency in environmental governance at http://cer.org.za/news/media-release-secrecy-bill-poses-significant-threat-to-transparency-in-environmental-governance/

  • 6. Bill Harding states that river biologists may be interested in the riverine version of the AlgaeTorch, viz. the BenthoTorch. This German-designed instrument provides a real chlorophyll data in the field (yes, off living cells!) within seconds, and provides differentiation between green algae, cyanobacteria AND diatoms!The technology completely revolutionizes the assessment of riverine periphyton and epiphyton in terms of "no lab needed" immediate assessment capability, ideal in situations where access to labs and skills is limited and there is a need for data now, not later! For more information: http://www.dhec.co.za/bbe/
  • 7. Thank you to Dave Weaver for the kind donation to the YWG fund. Bear in mind that FOSAF with very limited resources manages and finances the YWG.
  • 8. Remember the 2012 conference is in the W.Cape on 13 - 15 April.
  • 9. And lastly Debbie Simpson is selling her Dad's flyfishing equipment which includes a 2 wt 6 ft Orvis rod, a 5 wt Loomis and a Greys 4/5 wt all with matching reels. She is at Modderfontein in Gauteng and may be contacted at 083 2278836.


Kind regards,