Issue 47

August 2023

Read about our new Fishery Control Officer appointments, vessel engines, public launch site upgrades and more in this issue of the RiverWise.

Young Photography Category Prize

The winner of the Young Photography Category will win a Canon PowerShot ZOOM to the value of R3000! The PowerShot ZOOM is a pocket-sized super zoom monocular camera that shoots stills and Full HD video at the touch of a button. The camera is ideal for bird watching, travel, sports or family days out – right in the palm of your hand. Click here to view the full product specifications.

Adult Photography Category Prizes

Winter Animal Rescues

On the 3rd of July a Steenbokkie calf was dropped off at our office in Witsand. It was very young and was found alone on a cold winter's day. Weak and unresponsive, the LBRCT arranged for it to receive special care at a rehabilitation facility. With a warm bed and a full tummy, the bokkie perked up and regained its energy. It made friends with other animals in the garden and showed a lot of character. Sadly, on a cold night the bokkie took an unexpected turn for the worst and experienced seizures, alluding to brain damage. Unfortunately, the bokkie did not survive. A special thank you to everyone involved for giving this little one the best possible chance at life!


Later in July, CapeNature received a call-out to a nearby farm where an injured Cape Vulture had been spotted. It was thought that the bird could no longer fly as it was alone in the same field for a number of days. The LBRCT was contacted to assist in the collection. Upon arrival, much to our surprise, the vulture flew a few hundred metres to a neighbouring field. Fortunately for us, this was the last of the vulture's efforts to evade being captured. The bird was very weak and did not put up a fight. On closer inspection, the vulture was suffering from large abscesses on its feet, known as bumblefoot (see images above). Bumblefoot is a common bacterial infection and inflammatory reaction that occurs on the feet of birds, rodents, and rabbits. The Cape Vulture has since been treated at the Cango Wildlife Ranch and Conservation Centre in Oudtshoorn and is making a steady recovery.

Are you clearing natural vegetation without permission?

IT IS UNLAWFUL TO CLEAR, PLOUGH, OR ALTER ANY INDIGENOUS VEGETATION*


*The Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act 43 of 1983 (CARA) and National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 (NEMA) requires written authorisation from Environmental Affairs for any land development.


Failing to do so can result in fines of up to R10 million, imprisonment, or both.


Please note: Vegetation on land where the topsoil has not been disturbed over the preceding ten years is considered indigenous.


Why is natural vegetation important?


Natural vegetation is critical for healthy ecosystem functioning as it:

  • Regulates the flow of biochemical nutrient cycling and greatly affects soil characteristics.
  • Serves as a habitat for wildlife that rely on the vegetation as a source of food and shelter.
  • Determines an ecosystem’s resilience to threats, such as climate change.
  • Improves human livelihoods and sense of place.

What are the negative impacts of clearing natural vegetation?


Habitat & Biodiversity Loss


The Breede River has a great diversity of fauna and flora across multiple habitat types. Loss of these habitats result in the breakdown of interactions between biotic and abiotic factors. This leads to biodiversity loss which has a further knock-on effect. In time, local extinction occurs, making habitats more vulnerable and susceptible to alien species.


Soil Erosion


The majority of soil erosion occurs when natural vegetation is converted to agricultural land. Clearing and ploughing of vegetation strips the land of fertile top soil, which is then blown away by wind or washed away by rain. Soil erosion also occurs when reeds and sedges are removed from river banks. The lack of vegetation has a detrimental effect on the environment’s ability to retain and filter excess nutrients, as well as limit run-off.

Read more here.

Join us for the International Coastal Clean-up!

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The International Coastal Clean-up is a favourite on our calendar! Join us on the 22nd of September 2023 together with Vondeling Primary School to take part in this year's global effort to clean up our beaches. Refuse bags will be provided - just bring yourselves!

When: Friday, 22 September 2023 @ 10h00 AM

Where: Anchorage Restuarant, Main Beach, Witsand

WELCOME NEWS:

Introducing Five Fishery Control Officers for the Breede River Estuary!

On the 10th of October 2022, a letter was sent to the Swellendam Municipal Manager advising her that the rangers of the LBRCT could once again be appointed as Fishery Control Officers (FCOs). This was initiated by a Government Notice signed by Nomfundo Tshabalala, the Director-General of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE).

 

A lengthy process then ensued to obtain the necessary FCO identification certificates from the DFFE and by the 20th of July the Lower Breede River Conservancy Trust had acquired all that it needed to venture out into the field!

What are Fishery Control Officers?


Fishery Control Officers are compliance officials with the mandate to enforce the Marine Living Resource Act, 18 of 1998 (MLRA) relating the conservation of marine ecosystems and sustainable utilisation of marine living resources. Furthermore, the MLRA ensures that coastal and sea ecosystems are not exploited, over-fished, endangered, ruined, or polluted. In practical terms, this means that the LBRCT are now able to:

  • Inspect fish catches and bait collections
  • Inspect recreational and commercial fishing permits and vessels
  • Inspect restaurants and shops
  • Enforce the night-fishing ban
  • Enforce the drone-fishing ban
  • Fine transgressors and confiscate equipment / fish

Who are the Fishery Control Officers at the Breede River Estuary?


  1. Brenton Booysen (CapeNature)
  2. Jason Oxley (LBRCT Manager)
  3. Gershwin Fielies (LBRCT Senior Ranger)
  4. Tertius Josephs (LBRCT Senior Ranger)
  5. Chadwun Rozenkrantz (LBRCT Assistant Ranger)
  6. Andrew Crawford (LBRCT Trustee)


Despite the dedicated efforts of many, for the last 12 years the Breede Estuary has not seen a single Fishery Control Officer stationed permanently on the river. All enforcement efforts were reliant on DFFE or CapeNature officials from other coastal towns, which resulted in an inadequate presence and response time.


2023 marks a historical milestone for the conservation and safeguarding of the Breede River Estuary!

It's time to renew your municipal boat licence!

July marks the start of the new municipal financial year. Recreational boat licences for the Breede River are available from any of the six outlets as well as online (link below). In accordance with the Municipal Financial Year, all annual licences are valid from the 1st of July 2023 until the 30th of June 2024.

Please note: Commercial licences are required for vessels used in commercial operations, such as chartering, rentals and houseboats. Please apply in writing to info@breede-river.org

Would you like to renew your LBRCT membership?

Yearly memberships are due for renewal from the 1st of July 2023.


Not yet a member?

If you take an active interest in, or use the Breede River Estuary, we hope that we can encourage you to become a member of the LBRCT and support our worthwhile endeavours on your behalf by way of contributing to these efforts.

We've fitted our boats with new engines!

A big thank you for the generous donation

We are very happy to announce that both of our vessels have been fitted with Yamaha engines. Our red Falcon vessel that is based in Witsand has received a new 50HP Yamaha four-stroke engine - an incredibly fuel efficient motor. Our larger rubberduck situated upriver has also been fitted with a second-hand engine with nominal running hours. We looked far and wide for a good quality 4-stroke but had no luck, so we opted for a Yamaha 90 HP 2-stroke sold and previously maintained by Heyneman Marine in Swellendam.


These upgrades could not have been made without the support of our patrons, especially Justin Stanford who made a generous contribution.

Whale watching this winter?

View the latest results from the first Aerial Whale Count Survey of 2023


The first Southern Right Whale aerial count survey of 2023 has taken place and the results are looking great! As in previous years, the coastline was flown between Hermanus New Harbour and Witsand, an area known to cover some of the main nursery areas for the species along our coast. During our flight, 556 mothers with calves (1,112 whales) and 24 adults without calves (for a total of 1,136 whales) were counted. Half of these were in front of Koppie Alleen (236 mothers with calves) at De Hoop Collection Nature Reserve, whereas 172 mothers with calves were counted between Agulhas and Struisbaai, and 55 in Walkerbay. The graph above shows the total count compared to previous surveys conducted in August. ~ @JeanTresfon @University of Pretoria

Visit Jean's Facebook page to view stunning aerial photographs taken during the survey.

Did you know?


St Sebastian Bay and the waters off De Hoop Nature Reserve are known as the whale nursery of southern Africa due to the region's high concentration of Southern Right Whales during their annual winter migration!


According to the Marine Living Resource Act, no person, vessel, aircraft or drone may approach closer than 300 metres from a whale or dolphin. If a whale or dolphin surfaces closer than 300 metres, the boat operator must proceed to such a distance without delay.

Monthly Monitoring

Water Quality and Bird Counts

The LBRCT conducts a monthly bird count and water quality run on the Breede River. Both operations are conducted at spring low tide (full moon or new moon). On the water quality run this accounts for the pushing tide increasing the salinity of the water upriver as we travel and test. The bird count takes place at low tide to observe and record the different species as they forage on the exposed mudflats.


For the latest results please click here.

Kraaltjie Slipway Upgrades

The LBRCT assisted Hessequa Municipality design and install unique Code of Conduct sign boards for the Public Launch Sites in Witsand. Both signs have been installed to the left of the Kraaltjie and Government slipways. Additionally, the Kraaltjie harbour lights have been upgraded in accordance with SAMSA navigation standards; the poles have been painted green and red and are fitted with the appropriate lights to display starboard and port sides respectively.

Upgrades to the Kraaltjie Harbour include changing the navigation lights and poles to green (starboard) and red (port), as well as installing a Code of Conduct sign board.

Panoramic

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