Gill nets – death traps for animals, fish and boaters

Gill nets have become a major problem in the Hartbeespoort Dam and besides the high fatality rate of fish and birds caught in the nets, boats regularly get stuck in the nets, causing severe damage to the crafts.

“We rescue two to three boats from the gill nets every week,” says Arthur Crewe of the Hartbeespoort National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI). Most of the time, the boats are seriously damaged. The NSRI has been asking for years for something to be done about the illegal gill nets in the dam. We find up to 150 fish in the nets when we take them out.”

The NSRI removes nets whenever they come across them and local resident, Casper Kruger, has recently initiated a project to remove nets on a weekly basis. “We go out on the dam twice a week to find the nets and remove them. It is horrendous to see the large amount of dead birds and fish caught in the nets. Some of the nets we have taken out are up to 500 m long,” Kruger says.

“We have already had a request from the police to assist with the issue. We need more volunteers to help with the initiative. Anyone with a boat who wants to assist can call me.”

Crewe said initiatives like these are welcomed in order to safeguard boaters on the dam.

Anyone who wants to join the initiative to rid the dam of gill nets, can contact Casper on 083 315 8707. The NSRI can be contacted on 082 990 5961.