Fishing with drones banned in South Africa
Drone manufacturers and drone fishermen in South Africa have lost out in their battle to prevent the technique being banned.
A court has ruled that the method, which enables bait to be fished way beyond casting range, can have a damaging effect on fish stocks.
Those campaigning against drone fishing argue that it disrupts the breeding of certain species living in previously untouched areas and that because fish caught by drone anglers tend to be bigger, they are subject to stress which can threaten their survival when returned.
Additionally, drone fishing adds to the risk of line and other equipment being left in the ocean, currently one of the sport’s most controversial issues.
Marine biologist Bruce Mann, of the Oceanographic Research Institute, warned that ‘the populations of many important fish species have been categorised as collapsed, but the use of extremely effective technology such as drones will put more pressure on these vulnerable populations.’
Yugen Govender, Chair of the SA Drone Angling Association, formed two years ago, said that previously no control measures had been in place, but there were positives to come from the ban. “There are some issues, but we take it as a positive because we actually want to create more awareness and we want to be recognised,” he told CapeTalk. “So if this is an avenue to get clarity in the market, then it’s cool.”
Angling drone manufacturer, Jacques Venter, said that rather than banning drone fishing the government should promote and invest in it because it promoted eco-tourism. “There are ethical arguments, but with the correct regulations and policing they should not be an issue,” he added. “It is a missed opportunity.”
Kabelo Ledwaba, spokesperson for the South African Consolidated Recreational Angling Association (SACRAA), cited regulations that stated no object or substance shall be released, dispensed, dropped, delivered or deployed from Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) except by the holder of an RPAS Operating Certificate (ROC).