Commercial handline fishing from Kalk Bay Harbour throttled to death

Fishermen turn to begging on the streets and becoming car guards 

Photo credit: Chesney Bradshaw

Kalk Bay Harbour commercial handline fishing is on death row.

The fishing stocks have declined dramatically. One cause is overfishing outside of False Bay by giant corporate commercial operations and illegal fishing by foreign vessels. But there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

Over the past three decades, policing of South African waters to stop illegal fishing by foreign operators has been lacking.

Adequate policing of the coastal waters costs millions and funds have shrunk (we all know why) to finance such operations.

Kalk Bay harbour is a travesty of what it once was.

During the summer months, I spent some time at Kalk Bay harbour. I fished on one of the boats for snoek and chokka.

It was a privilege to talk to some of the fishermen who are still around.

On the surface of things, Kalk Bay Harbour hasn’t changed. But when you dig deeper, you’ll find that things have changed for the worse.

In the hay days of the 1970s, commercial fishing boats would come in with a catch of 40,000 snoek on one day. On a very good day in the summer season of 2021/22, the boats brought in a total catch of 400 snoek. Sometimes only 40. Doesn’t this say something?

There are now three hand-line commercial fishing boats left. The other boats you see are commercial crayfishing boats that are based in Kalk Bay Harbour.

How come?

Yes, the decline of handline fishing is partly due to overfishing all over South Africa’s coastline.

But main reason is fishing quotas.

Commercial fishing quotas have reduced commercial handline fishing to three boats in Kalk Bay Harbour.

I witnessed firsthand how a veteran fisherman was forced to become a car guard. The boat he fished on was refused a commercial fishing licence.

Let that sink in. A fisherman from a very long line of fisher folk dating back to the first Filipino fishermen in the early 1800s.

Others have been reduced to begging on the streets.

Sad. Very sad.

All because of draconian measures of exclusion intent on a program of appears to be total annihilation.

Over 40 years ago, when I fished from Kalk Bay Harbour it was a vibrant place – a community asset. Now it has been reduced to a tourist trap. A?handful of eateries are the only commercially viable entities that exist.

There’s no doubt that it is still a beautiful harbour especially looking down from the homes above Kalk Bay and Boyes Drive. And it’s still a wonderful experience to walk along the pier and smell the fresh sea air. But for the fishermen who have been plying their trade for centuries, it unfortunately looks like the end of the line.?

Selling snoek at Kalk Bay harbour for 25 cents each

Long-time Kalk Bay fisherman “Riemhou”.

Many years ago before Kalk Bay harbour was commercialised with restaurants who buy their fish from commercial fisheries in Cape Town, the harbour was a real fishing harbour. Boatloads of snoek, yellowtail and bonito (katonkel) were brought to the quayside for sale from the boats.

In those days there were so many boats in the harbour that skippers had to queue up while the boats ahead of them threw up their catches onto the quayside.

Peter Swart, Skipper of the Freda, outside Kalk Bay Harbour.

One summer in the mid-1970s, I went out fishing with my father on his ski boat for snoek outside Glencairn. The snoek was so plentiful that we all filled the fish hold and decks, ran to Kalk Bay harbour and sold our first boatload. Continue reading “Selling snoek at Kalk Bay harbour for 25 cents each”

The power of invisible links

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Kalk Bay Harbour (Copyright: Chesney Bradshaw)

When I was growing up in Kalk Bay a seal clubbing trawler called the Malgas worked out of the harbour. It would go down to Seal Island where the crew would club seals to death, load them onto the trawler, bring them back to Kalk Bay harbour and send them away for further processing.

As a little boy, I once saw a baby seal pup stuck in one of the big rubber tractor tyres that was used as a ballard to stop the wooden fishing boats bashing against the side of the key. A crew member from the Malgas took out a long gaff, gaffed the pup in its throat, pulled it aboard and skinned the baby seal alive. Continue reading “The power of invisible links”

The mackerel are biting! Let’s go down to the harbour

English: Kalk Bay harbour and town in Cape Tow...
Kalk Bay harbour and town in Cape Town, South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the summer afternoons I would take my reel of nylon line, penknife and a sardine from my father’s bait deep-freeze and run from our home in Kalk Bay down to the harbour.

The mackerel were biting in the harbour. Huge shoals of mackerel, maasbunkers and chokka (squid) would move into False Bay during the summer months. From October right through to March you could catch bait fish in the harbour.

At the quayside a whole crowd of boys would be sitting with their legs dangling over the edge or the taller boys with their feet touching the big black tractor and truck tyres used as fendors around the concrete harbour walls. Continue reading “The mackerel are biting! Let’s go down to the harbour”