Andre Arendse, lifelong rock and surf angler, said the DFFE was using scare tactics and that it was unconstitutional, as this law could not be upheld by the courts.
Cape Town - The Department of Forestry Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) has warned recreational anglers and members of the public that despite the “incorrect information” being shared on social media, fishing by means of remote-controlled and motorised equipment remains illegal.
Since last year, three criminal cases were opened and were ongoing regarding this. In November, three anglers appeared in the Muizenberg Magistrate’s Court after they were arrested for drone fishing.
One of the anglers said that they would never have been drone fishing if the laws were clear in stating that it was illegal. These cases have been postponed multiple times with no judgment yet.
Andre Arendse, lifelong rock and surf angler, said the DFFE was using scare tactics and that it was unconstitutional, as this law could not be upheld by the courts, “that is why the three accused cannot receive their judgment.”
Sadiq Omar, one of the recreational anglers who was arrested for drone fishing, said: “These laws are not cast in stone or black and white, and they must state in future that droning is not allowed. The department needs to get all their information regarding this matter in person and not from social media like they are currently doing.”
Omar believed the government should allow them to use their drones and establish permits for them, but add restrictions to these, as people would continue to drone, as they do all over the world, with more technological fishing advancements in years to come.
The department said: “On February 24, 2022 a public notification was issued explaining that a variety of devices, including, but not limited to, bait-carrying drones, bait carrying remote-controlled boats and other remotely-operated vehicles were being used by recreational anglers to illegally catch fish and sharks.”
When the department said this action remained illegal since 2005, a legal action was brought forward by Gannet Works Proprietary Limited and others, seeking for recreational fishing, including angling, using drones and radio-controlled bait boats, to not be prohibited. This was dismissed but thereafter leave to appeal was granted. The appeal is currently pending before the Supreme Court of Appeal.
On hearing that leave to appeal had been granted, the department said various social media sites were providing incorrect information that the granting of leave to appeal invalidated the government notice and that fishing with drones was lawful.
“This is, however, an incorrect interpretation of the law. The DFFE has obtained opinion from senior counsel which clearly states that the application for leave to appeal does in no way invalidate the notification of February 24,” said the department.