I retired to Knysna 12 years ago but have been coming here before that for over 50 years. I have been secretary of the Leisure Isle Boat Club and produced and managed its comprehensive website www.libcknysna.co.za.
I have a boat and spend much time on the lagoon, both by day and night. I therefore feel experienced to speak to your readers about the issues below.
Knysna Lagoon is managed by SANParks. In their management plan signed by the minister of Water Affairs and their Garden Route manager, it specifically calls for ‘Stakeholder Involvement’. Without it, according to Section 3.4.6 on p28, it risks:
• An increase in external impacts such as pollution and poaching (without question this is a fact that would be acknowledged by everyone);
• Less support from powerful stakeholders that can lead to a decrease in business revenue (many lagoon users are not applying for boating, baiting and fishing licences as they see little input from SANParks, and very few fines).
So, in a nutshell, there is a negative, downward spiral. I have on many occasions tackled SANParks on this, by asking them what the fines are for speeding in a non-wake zone, or skiing in a no-ski area, or for selling illegally caught bait, for using over sized nets, for selling your catch, for pollution, etc.
There is no answer because no one has been fined for these offences. I am told that they have ceased training of their officers, but cannot verify this latter point.
So come to Knysna, folks, and once on our lagoon, you can do any speed and ski anywhere.
Buy as much bait as you want and you can use long lines with as many hooks as you like. There are no restrictions here. Take a good gamble on even having a boat licence and collect all the bait you like anywhere in our lagoon at night, because there are no night patrols.
By the way, most of our regulations have not been updated since 1987, despite a huge increase in population and number of boats. Thesen’s alone added 300 craft.
About five years ago I started working with SANParks and other lagoon users. I felt the only way to make a difference was to increase awareness and knowledge of the lagoon, since many users did not have the benefit of hindsight, i.e. just how productive, quiet and beautiful this lagoon used to be.
So I came up with a Voluntary Code of Conduct which I presented to about 18 different lagoon associations, comprising about 300 people. I had widespread acceptance, even by SANParks, but still need them to at least uphold our current and limited regulations.
Interestingly, Plett is controlled by Cape Nature and has passed a law limiting speed below the bridge to a no-wake 5.5 knots.
I have never moaned about subsistence fishermen and personally would prefer 50 of them to one high speed boat with two 300hp motors causing huge wakes and putting so much marine life through the mincing machine of their prop wash!
I also feel that the 18-million cubic metres coming through our Heads every tide does a good job of catering for pollution and we need to start with some easier ‘can do’ projects, to give people experiences of success.
I would really appreciate your assistance in helping to curb the degeneration of this precious resource, which is also a big tourist attraction and job creator.
Arland Read, Knysna
(Interested readers can email email@example.com to obtain copies of Arland’s talk, copies of SANParks correspondence, petitions, etc. Also visit www.cxpress.co.za to read Arland’s letter ‘Distressing lack of Knysna Estuary maintenance mars return to fishing grounds’ on page 5 of the June 24 edition, and the response from SANParks on page 7 of the July 1 edition. - Eds.)