YELLOWFISH WORKING GROUP - YWG February Newsletter

Dear YWG member,

Here is the news for the month -

 

SAVE (Save the Vaal environment)

This NGO aims to protect and maintain the environmental integrity of the river between Vaal Dam and Parys and it has earned an excellent track record during its 25-year existence by winning legal battles against polluters. These legal battles have resulted in 5 court orders being issued but these orders have either not been implemented or have been implemented in a less than satisfactory way. The result is that SAVE is now forced to return to court, not once but twice. The first action will seek to have a court order forcing the authorities to repair the pumps at a local sewage unit and the second will be a far wider and more comprehensive action against a number of ministers (principally Water Affairs & Sanitation), municipalities, two premiers and others. In other words, it will ensure that our Ministers will finally be obliged to deliver the rights we are guaranteed in terms of our constitution. Apparently, a plan is in place but the DWS state they are unable to implement it because it lacks the funds. Not surprising for a department for which the auditor general reported irregular and fruitless expenditure of 2,5 billion last year!

Anyone who knows the state of the Vaal will agree that the quality of water is deteriorating and the system including the Vaal Dam has reached crisis proportions. Not only is the aquatic ecosystem severely compromised but pollution of the system poses a major threat to human health. The cost to SAVE will be in the region of R4 million. Apart from a top legal team it will have to cover the expense of experienced toxicologists and ecologists and other experts.

Please visit www.save.org.za as SAVE deserves the support of all.

New studies in KZN.

Gordon O’Brien has several students carrying out research in the KZN rivers. The more interesting from a YWG standpoint are:

Mathew Burnett is looking into the behavioural response of Labeobarbus natalensis to water quality and quantity variables in the uMngeni River in real-time and remotely using radio telemetry techniques. In order to achieve this he will be evaluating the behavioural ecology of L. natalensis within a healthy section of the river and then evaluating the response of L. natalensis around the release from two waste water treatment works (WWTW). The two WWTW are Howick WWTW on the uMngeni River and Darville WWTW on the uMsunduzi River which services Pietermaritzburg.

The study aims to use radio telemetry to evaluate the behavioural response of L. natalensis to the WWTW works releases and water quality. Using radio telemetry will enable them with the use of WIRELESS WILDLIFE tags to monitor Water Quality and Quantity remotely and in real time, at the same time monitoring the behavioural response to these variables by L. natalensis. This will equip managers with a means to monitor and mitigate the effects of the important WWTW on the uMngeni and uMsunduzi Rivers.

Pumla Dlamini is studying the fish communities in the uMngeni River catchment and water quality issues. 3 sites are in the upper catchment, 4 in the middle (2 in the uMngeni and 2 in the uMsunduzi) and one in the lower catchment.

Middle Vaal yellowfishing

Currently the river is running at about 30 cumecs which is on the high side for fly fishing, but with more rain predicted for later this week the conditions will not improve in the short term from the Barrage downstream. However, we have had a dry January and conditions could improve towards the month-end. We have heard that Wag n’ Bietjie at Orkney had good fishing in January although currently the river is on the high side with visibility of about 30cm. Reveck Hariram of RandWater noted that there were plenty of smaller yellows in the shallows of Vaal Dam spawning as they do in Sterkfontein.

TCFF Sterkfontein Experience

There are still a few places open at this popular yellowfish event which runs from 23 to 25 March if you contact info@completeflyfisherna.co.za.

Kind regards,

Peter

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