Bid for licence to kill … Mynas

2014-04-17 00:00

IF trout in South Africa are getting nervous after being named on the proposed listing of invasive aliens, so must the Indian Myna. Now a pending court action could bring their doom even closer.

In February, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) named 532 species they proposed listing as invasive aliens under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Nemba).

The list included plants, reptiles, birds and mammals. Among them the Brown and Rainbow trout — and the Indian Myna.

As reported in yesterday’s Witness, the trout fishing fraternity is mounting a spirited opposition to the legislation which they foresee will destroy the trout fishing industry that includes a range of business operations, including hatcheries, tackle dealers, and fly-fishing estates.

According to Nemba, an invasive species is defined as an alien species that has become established outside its natural range; that poses a threat to other species, habitats and ecosystems, and causes economic and environmental harm and is harmful to human health. If a species is identified as invasive according to Nemba, steps must be taken to combat and eradicate it, and if eradication is not possible it must not be allowed to breed or propagate.

The proposed list of invasive species has yet to be promulgated into law so the above measures do not yet apply.

However, next week will see an action in the Durban high court brought by the Kloof Conservancy to “compel the government to implement Invasive Alien Species legislation”.

The application was launched in December 2012 and seeks to compel government to “publish and apply” the list of invasive species as per Nemba.

“Nemba was produced in 2004 but it is absolutely useless without regulations,” said Paolo Candotti, chairperson of the Kloof Conservancy. “These were supposed to be promulgated on August 31, 2006 but it has never been done.”

The court application also calls on government to publish the regulations and give “full and proper effect” to the provisions of Nemba concerning invasive alien species.

“If Nemba is to be effective it must have effective regulations,” says Candotti. “There were some draft regulations last year but they had no meat, there were no species attached.”

The main focus of the Kloof Conservancy has been on invasive plants via their Alien Busters Project, which vows that “Kloof/Forest Hills will be invasive alien plant free suburbs by 2020″.

The Common or Indian Myna, a well-known bird in this part of the world and which originally came from India, is one of the birds on the list of proposed invasive aliens.

If the regulations become law, does that mean citizens must then dispatch them?

“I’m afraid so,” said Candotti. “If its invasive, its invasive.”

At the moment people talking such action would be subject to animal cruelty legislation, said Candotti, adding that if the regulations are promulgated there would presumably be guidelines on humane methods of eradication.

Candotti was not prepared to comment on the trout issue but said the regulations need to be promulgated and “then we can argue about them”.

The Kloof Conservancy application will be heard in the Durban high court on April 25.

The DEA were not able to respond in detail by the time of going to press but a spokesperson said they would defend the case.


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