Net fishing cause of mass deaths in dam
WATER authorities in Limpopo have called on fishermen to refrain from net fishing - or face prosecution.
They said the practice of net fishing had caused mass deaths of crocodiles and fish.
The officials also threatened to take legal action against fishermen found using drift net fishing to fish in the dams.
A study by the department of water affairs found that fishermen were using nets to catch fish and left them in the water overnight, a practice that led to the deaths of other water animals.
Chief director Alson Matukane said the mass deaths of fish and crocodiles at Nandoni dam outside Thohoyandou was a result of nets that were left in the water, contrary to the earlier presumption that poisoning hadcaused the deaths.
"Our tests did not find that those fish die because of poisoning like we thought earlier, but that it was due to suffocation," said Matukane.
He said the aquatic creatures suffered when they were trapped on the net in the water.
"The problem of the fish and crocodiles that died was that the fish were trapped in the net and the crocodiles wanted to eat from the net.
"The crocodiles were also caught and trapped and ultimately died in the net," he said.
He said plans were under way to regulate fishing in the province to protect the social and economic viability of the dams.
"We are issuing licences to fishermen with a view to engage them in workshops on sustainable fishing, so that we can prevent overfishing and other problems like net fishing which caused the deaths of fish and crocodiles," Matukane said.
Fisherman and unemployed immigrant Gift Mutase said he was relieved by the investigation's findings.
"People were no longer buying from us as they said that newspapers and radio reports were saying our fishes died of poisoning. Now I think they will believe we did not use poison."