Trout safe for now

2014-08-06 00:00

THE trout are rising again. But for how much longer?

Last Friday, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa published the Lists and Regulations on Alien Invasive Species. There are 559 species listed but, for the present, trout are not among them.

In February, the DEA, using the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA), named species they proposed listing as invasive aliens, including rainbow and brown trout.

According to DEA spokesperson Zolile Nqayi, the minister didn’t want to delay publication of the regulations any further but wanted to satisfy “herself that the proposed measures to be taken regarding trout are optimal and practical”.

Nqayi said the DEA and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) are agreed on measures with regard to trout and that there is “a need to promote trout aquaculture”.

The February listing drew fire from the Federation of South African Fly Fishers (Fosaf) and TroutSA who mounted a vigorous campaign against the proposed legislation.

Nqayi acknowledged the campaign had influenced the listing postponement. “There have been accusations that the proposed measures would ‘destroy the trout industries’ and would ‘eradicate trout’,” he said, adding that this was “not the intention of the department and government”.

The DEA met with Fosaf and TroutSA in Durban twice during July.

Ilan Lax, Fosaf national chairperson, said the postponement was a promising development. He said Fosaf was aiming towards “self-regulation with audited compliance” as opposed to a permit system and was working towards “finding a middle ground” with the DEA.

“Trout are not out of the woods yet,” said Ian Cox, member of the convening committee of TroutSA. “But there is hope we will reach an accommodation and that things will work out for the trout industry.”

In April, judgment was reserved in an action brought in the Durban high court by the Kloof Conservancy to “compel the government to implement Invasive Alien Species legislation”.

“These were supposed to be promulgated on 31 August, 2006, but it has never been done,” Paolo Candotti, chairperson of the Kloof Conservancy, said at the time.

Yesterday, Candotti cautiously welcomed the publication of the list and said “gut reaction” was that it was “an improvement” on previously proposed legislation. “But we have mixed feelings about it and would like to go through the regulations closely before commenting.”

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