A city law enforcement officer and a Table Mountain National Park ranger arrest a diver allegedly found with poached abalone between Hout Bay and Kommetjie earlier this month. Photo: Supplied
Cape Town – Nearly 200 vehicle patrols were conducted by the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) Marine Unit between 2018 and 2019 in an effort to curb poaching and fishing in “no-take” zones.

These efforts were highlighted as the country marked National Marine Week, which aims to create awareness about the marine and coastal environment, with this year’s focus on the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) within the TMNP.

Marine Protected Areas Table Mountain conservation manager Ezekiel Kosa said: “In the 2018/19 financial year, the TMNP Marine Unit were very active in patrol and monitoring operations across the Cape Peninsula MPA. 

"An amount of 31 vessel patrols, 198 vehicle patrols, 125 foot patrols and 30 observation posts were conducted within the “no-take” and control zones. 1 283 permits were checked and 13 joint operations were conducted. A total of 20 arrests were made by the TMNP Marine Unit.

“Joint operations included a combination of day and day-night operations with law enforcement agencies such as the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, City of Cape Town Marine Law Enforcement and SAPS. I’d like to thank my team for their continued effort in protecting our natural resources living in our seas.”

The seas around the Cape Peninsula are rich in marine biodiversity because this is where the Indian and Atlantic oceans mix.

In 2004, the TMNP MPA was declared to help ensure the sustainability of commercial and recreational use of the ocean.

The MPA includes 1 000km² of the sea and coastline around the Cape Peninsula from Moullie Point in the north to Muizenberg in the south, and the recently gazetted Robben Island MPA, which includes a further 618km².

While fishing is allowed in most of the MPA - subject to permits, regulations and seasons - it also includes six restricted areas, with five “no-take” zones within the Cape Peninsula MPA where no fishing or extractive activities are allowed.

The Robben Island MPA consists of three controlled zones and one “no-take” zone.

These restricted zones are important breeding and nursery areas for marine life and through leaving these undisturbed, there will ultimately be an increase in marine stock, and threatened species are given a chance to regenerate.

The MPA is managed by TMNP in conjunction with the department, where TMNP undertakes the administrative and inshore law enforcement and educational activities.

A number of events are on this month to celebrate Marine Week, including the Oceans of Life Photographic Exhibition at the Iziko South African Museum, the Schools’ Ocean Exhibition at the V&A Waterfront and numerous coastal clean-ups.

Cape Times