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Explore the Garden Route

waterways on a SUP tour.

 

 

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Strandloper Project
Citizen Science to save future biodiversity.

 

Rock Cod

The Strandloper Project is a campaign to raise awareness of the contribution that recreational surf fishing makes to ghost fishing in the Southern Cape.

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Strandloper Project

The Garden Route boasts over 200km of coastline with a scenic mix of sandy beaches and rocky shores hosting many bays and reefs waiting to be explored.

South Cape surf fishing

This coastline, like the rest of the South African coastline is heavily fished by both recreational and subsistence fishers for shore based surf fishing. As a consequence a substantial amount of fishing tackle is lost due to snagging on rocks posing a risk of ghost fishing from the baited hooks.

Gericke's Point

Coastal Hike

In an effort to measure the amount of snagged fishing tackle and to raise awareness of the threat of ghost fishing as a result of recreational fishing, a group of locals will be embarking on a 10 day hike between Witsand and Wilderness.

In line with the original modern humans of the region the hikers will be self sufficient eating only what they manage to forage from the intertidal zone.

As an unsupported coastal hike we will have to source water, food and shelter en route.

Tackle and trash survey.

The primary purpose of the hike will be to conduct surveys both in the water and along the beach to quantify both snagged fishing tackle and washed up plastic trash along the coastline.

Hooked Fish

Initial dive surveys have indicated a distinction between two types of tackle snagged on the reef, namely larger tackle used for sports fishing and smaller tackle used for subsistence fishing.

Recovery rates of snagged tackle have indicated rates of 2.3 sinkers per meter and 2 hooks per meter of reef surveyed. There were also records of 5 fish killed as a consequence of ghost fishing.

Why be concerned about Ghost Fishing?

While the loss of fishing tackle has an impact on the aesthetics for snorklers and free divers, it has a far harsher consequence on the ecology than most people realize.

Ghost fishing is defined as the ability for lost fishing gear to continue catching and killing fish. Most of the research on ghost fishing focuses on the impact of industrial fishing, such as trawling and long lining, when gear is lost with little attention or research placed on the impact of recreational surf fishing. Research has shown that a snagged fishing hook has the latent ability to 'ghost fish' up to 10 fish before it disintegrates. The ramifications on inshore fishing stocks is severe.

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Volunteer and Support

Currently our clean up dive program is arranged on a volunteer basis with dives scheduled when sea and weather conditions.

All diving is free diving in depths of 2m to 8m. To date we have dived on three site which have become regular transects.

We currently dive at Gericke's Point, Paquita Wreck and in Kingfisher Creek.

Diver

Plastic Trash.

A second aspect of the 10 day hike will be to document location and types of plastic trash found along the walk. We will be mapping the plastic using Cybertracker and will then be able to generate distribution maps according to the category of trash.

Nurdles

Cursory observations have shown at least 5 broad categories of plastic trash from nurdles, plastic bottle tops and PET containers.

The damage of plastic trash in the oceans is well documented and recent studies show that plastic particles have entered the marine food chain and now pose a threat of humans through the consumption of marine products from mussels to fish.

Why hike along the Southern Cape Coastline?

Archeological studies at prominent sites between Keurbooms beach and Witsand indicate that early modern humans roamed this section of coastline and foraged for food in the intertidal zone.

Fossil Footprints

Records at Pinnacle point indicate that modern humans, referred to as Strandlopers, have been active along the coastline for at least 164,000 years and fossil footprints that are at least 90,000 years old.

It seems appropriate, that while conducting the surveys, to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors and to attempt to live in the same manner as they did by sourcing food from tidal pools, the ocean and estuaries.

Sponsorship and donations.

We have been fortunate to have received sponsorship for some of our equipment, but would like to grow the clean up program and ultimately formalize an interest group to develop an awareness program of the contribution of recreational fishing to ghost fishing.

Public Education.

In July 2018 we started with a series of public presentations informing the public of the impact that snagged fishing tackle has on ghost fishing and of the plastic trash along the coastline..

If you would like to contribute to the clean up program or would like to have our team talk at your school or society, please contact Mark or Amanda on how to become involved.

If you would like to join us on a dive, follow our Face Book page and look out for the posted events.

Contributions can be made via PayPal and we will soon have a crowd funding program.

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