By: Bruce Mann
From the 3–6 August 2021 the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI) linefish team was back in the field for the 88th iSimangaliso surf-zone fish monitoring and tagging field trip. The field trip was conducted between Mission Rocks and Cape Vidal, and as this stretch of coast is quite rocky, in most cases the team parked the vehicles and walked. By walking and fishing the coast each day, they had a chance to examine the surf-zone reef habitat in detail and there is no doubt that the 6.5 km uMziki Restricted Zone between just north of Bat’s Cave and Bartletts is prime reef fish habitat and ideally situated. This means that, although complex, the zonation of the iSimangaliso MPA has been carefully planned to achieve optimal conservation outcomes and human benefits. The team noted that although the new inshore zonation for the iSimangaliso MPA has now been in place for over two years, there are still no signboards in place to inform anglers of the location of the different zones or the rules that apply.
During the trip, a total of 298 fish were caught, of which 163 were tagged, 14 were recaptures and 121 were small fish or non-tagging species. Only one recapture, a yellowbelly rockcod, had been at liberty for two years since the last trip in August 2019. This fish had stayed in the same place and grown 110 mm. A total of 23 fish species were recorded on the trip.
The team would like to thank SAAMBR, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority and Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife for providing funding and logistic support for this long-term monitoring project. Thanks to Ford Wildlife for the sponsorship of their remarkable Ford Ranger vehicle.