Addo MPA… how does it really affect us as recreational fisherfolk?

We all are aware that as of the 23rd of May South Africa officially declared 20 new Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s), yip it has been gazetted! This means that currently we have 41 protected areas along our South African coastline. MPA’s play a critical role in protecting our natural resources by limiting human activity within these “reserves”. However, the introduction of the new MPA has left many a fisherfolk wondering if and how this will affect them? 

Most of us living in the Eastern Cape, particularly Port Elizabeth and its surrounds frequent Sunday’s and van der Riets for fishing expeditions. Whilst there has been lots of rumours around what the new regulations will entail, all gossip has been put to an end as the Gazette gives a detailed breakdown of how the Addo MPA has been zoned and what activities are restricted in each of those particular areas. However, lets be honest not all of us understand all the political/scientific jargon which is why we had a chat to Dr Ané Oosthuizen regarding the new regulations and how they will affect local recreational fisherfolk. This is what she had to say…

Hi Ané, tell us a bit about yourself and how you were involved in the project? Hi Chénelle, I work for South African National Parks, and have been part of the Planning of the Addo ENP MPA since 2006.

All fishing is completely prohibited in all restricted zones? Shore based fishing, around the Sundays area, has therefore been restricted to between point I and K? And further up the coast from L onwards? Yes, all fishing is prohibited in all restricted zones. However the zonation of the MPA allows for recreational, commercial and subsistence fishing in several controlled zones. Shore fishing around Sundays can take place between I and K, on both sides of the mouth. Then again from L at Woody cape to A at Cannon Rocks

There were rumours that fishing was going to be closed within and on either side of the Sundays river mouth, has this happened? No, the proposed closure after the mouth was not done after consultation with stakeholders.

If fishing from a boat, this can only take place within the SOCZ, as well as within the estuary, up until the SERZ? Where exactly does the SERZ begin? The SERZ begins at the end of Ingelside, were the Koppies comes down to meet the river, and the GPS coordinate for point S will give the exact position. Fishing from a boat can also take place in the CROICZ on the Cannon rocks side of the MPA.

Can drones be used in the park? Within the shore controlled zones how far seaward does the boundary extend? It is important to remember that drones are excluded from National Parks, but not the MPA. This will make the use of drones tricky in the areas where the MPA borders the National Park. Please be well informed of the boundaries, and if unsure please check with the Park. The boundary for fishing from shore is 200m from the highwater mark.

Should someone witness illegal fishing activity within the park, to whom would one report it? Who will be policing the area?  The regulations for all the new MPAs comes into effect from 1 August, and SANParks would appreciate the support of the community in being the eyes and ears on the ground. Please contact Addo Elephant National Park directly, and we will have a 24h line operational from August.

A special thanks to Ané, who took the time to help clarify the confusion regarding this MPA. And a huge congratulations on being part of such a conservation “win”!

The Addo MPA Gazette is also available for download at the following link (Document numbers 42478 23-5 EnvironAff and 42479 23-5 EnvironAff) . Should you have any additional queries, please do not hesitate to send them through to us and we will do our best to get them back to you!