Final Mission for the Oceanographic Research Institute

Feb 22, 2008

Mission: Aerial Survey of the KwaZulu-Natal Coast to Determine the Total Shore Angling Effort
Date: 22 February 2008
Requesting organisation: Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI)
Location: KwaZulu Natal
Pilot: Steve McCurrach

From the left:  Steve McCurrach, Bateleur Director and pilot,
with Bruce Mann of the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI).

In early February Steve McCurrach flew the final monitoring mission for the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI) – for now, that is.  Steve has done sterling work in co-ordinating all the flights in 2007 and 2008 for ORI, working with a dedicated group of volunteer pilots in KwaZulu Natal.  The Bateleurs would like to thank this particular group of KZN pilots, who are mentioned by name in the report from ORI, below.  Their commitment to the ORI monitoring missions, over an extended period of time, is very much appreciated.

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Final report and thanks from Bruce Mann of ORI

The little dots on the beach close to the surf are anglers on the shore at Amatikulu
– they are very visible in a bigger photo!

The Bateleurs assist in an aerial survey of the KwaZulu-Natal coast to determine the total shore angling effort
By Bruce Mann, Oceanographic Research Institute, Durban

“A randomised aerial survey of the KZN coast was undertaken between March 2007 and February 2008. A total of 36 flights were conducted with 18 flights along the north coast (Virginia to Kosi Bay) and south coast (Virginia to Port St Johns) respectively. Twenty-four weekday flights were conducted in the KZN Wildlife aircraft (Cessna 182), while 12 weekend flights were conducted by The Bateleurs, using a variety of aircraft including Cessna 172s, a Rainbow Cheetah and even an RV8! Ground-truthing revealed that the aerial counts of shore anglers had an accuracy of about 91%. As expected, angler effort was significantly higher over weekends and on good weather days. Seasonality of shore angling effort showed that the greatest effort occurred during the winter months (June to September) coinciding with the seasonal availability of shad (Pomatomus saltatrix) along the KZN coast. Interestingly, angling effort declined substantially during October and November coinciding with the closed season for this important angling species. This result demonstrates the effectiveness of such regulations in reducing the total fishing effort.

More developed stretches of the KZN coast with higher population densities and greater angler access (e.g. Durban Metro) had the highest angling effort. Results from the aerial survey were significantly lower than the results obtained by KZN Wildlife shore patrols over the same time period, emphasising the importance of aerial surveys in calculating total angler effort in fisheries where effort is dispersed over a large area.”

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Only in Africa – and Steve thought he was doing a marine survey!

The photo of cows making themselves very
at home on a landing strip does, in fact,
arise from one of the ORI survey flights.

To continue with Bruce’s report:
“The total annual angler effort along the KZN coast was calculated at 843 702 angler days per year which represents a 43% decline from a similar estimate made in 1994-96. This decline in shore angling effort is largely attributed to increased crime levels (anglers are scared to go fishing along parts of the coast), as well as to the impact of the beach vehicle ban reducing anglers ability to access more remote areas of the coast. These factors have also resulted in a change in the pattern of shore fishing which is now focused at beach access points rather than being more evenly distributed along the coast. Based on the results of this study, important recommendations have been made to try and improve current management of the KZN shore fishery.”

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