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Bid to allow drones for recreational fishing rejected


An application to reinstate the use of drones for recreational fishing in South Africa has been rejected.

The use of drones for carrying bait was banned in February last year, with transgressors risking prosecution and the confiscation of their drones.

The applicant, a business selling bait-carrying drones, went to court to have the ban withdrawn, reports Businesstech, a site serving the SA business community.

The applicant argued that the Marine Living Resources Act included aircraft in the list of devices allowed for fishing and that the only difference between an aircraft and a drone was the absence of a pilot in the vehicle. The applicant also pointed to the fact that the regulations defined angling as fishing that used a rod, reel or something similar and that bait-carrying drones use a manually controlled reel and therefore were within the rules.

However, the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment said that bait-carrying drones are not authorised by angling permits, and that it had a constitutional obligation to ensure that fishing did not negatively affect fish populations. The Ministry also argued that the court should not interfere with the interpretation of the complicated legislation and regulation of fisheries management.

In dismissing the application, the court said that the economic impact of its decision would likely be irreversible – whether favourable or unfavourable.

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