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Mike Brokensha, the larger-than-life former chief conservator of coastal fisheries for the Natal Parks Board, died in Howick last week at the age of 82.
Known to colleagues as Madevu because of his large moustache, Brokensha was at the forefront of imposing tough new laws to protect shad from overfishing in the early 1980s, and became known as the “shad sheriff” of KZN.
He began his career in the 1950s with the former Natal Parks, Game and Fish Preservation Board after a chance meeting with Ian Player while he was fishing on the beach at Shaka’s Rock. During his career, he helped resurrect the trout hatchery in Royal Natal National Park.
He also flew to the US in a DC-8 to ensure the welfare of a crated white rhino which had been sold to the San Diego Zoo. He was involved in monitoring endangered sea turtles.
After his retirement, he continued his marine conservation work by promoting tag-and-release fishing.
Mercury photographer Terry Haywood helped to orchestrate one of Brokensha’s most memorable ski-boat catches. Brokensha had nodded off behind his line, and Haywood and his associates cut off his bait and substituted it with a very unconventional lure. Feeling a tug on his line, Brokensha woke with a start and spent almost an hour fighting and reeling in what turned out to be an empty bucket.
His funeral service will be held tomorrow at the Howick Presbyterian Church at 2.30pm. Brokensha is survived by his wife, Cheryll, and his children, Kerry-Lynn, Sean, Brendan and Grant.