New Daff staff need training, uninformed

2016-10-06 06:00

THE Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) has recently taken over KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife`s long standing contract.

On 23 September, a friend was apprehended after coming out of the water from diving at Hibberdene by a group of Daff officers.

He was in possession of seven legal-sized crayfish, and was walking to his car parked about 200m away, in his wetsuit with diving kit.

The officers did not introduce or identify themselves and immediately accused him of being over his quota, but after the mistake, politely being pointed out by him and some discussion among themselves, agreed that the quota is eight in KZN.

He was then asked for his permit which he said it was in his vehicle because he could not carry the permit and/or document on his person while diving.

The officers then informed him he was under arrest and whisked him off to the police station despite his requests to obtain his permit from his vehicle a short distance away.

A charge proceeding followed in which time a friend fetched his licence, his crayfish were confiscated and a court order served upon him three-and-a-half hours later. On Monday morning the SAPS prosecuting officer was seen and the case thrown out before it went to court with no Daff representative present.

Beside a huge inconvenience, my friend has not received his catch “exhibit” back despite phoning Daff after his case was officially nulled. Does this not equate to theft?

On the same day, I made a trip to Durban and less than three kilometres away the crayfish sellers were out on the side of the freeway illegally selling their “bunches”. It seems the authorities do not have the will or want to do something about this ongoing problem.

I have since heard bait shops along the coast have been rigorously checked and some issued hefty fines, some legitimate others for petty offences. Two divers I know on the North Coast were checked by Daff and asked what species of fish they had caught (not knowing the identity or quota of the species). Ski boaters at Shelly Beach have also been “blitzed” by the new force.

While they have a big task and zero tolerance is necessary for legitimate poaching, it seems some of the new Daff force are uninformed and not following correct procedures.

Ezemvelo Wildlife earned the respect and co-operation with recreational fishermen, however, false arrest is unacceptable and they are not going to endear themselves to recreational fishermen and divers with a heavy-handed attitude.

Irate Fisherman

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