SARDINES could appear along some of KZN’s beaches within coming weeks according to the KZN Sharks Board (KZNSB) which undertook its first monitoring flight of the 2018 sardine season on Thursday last week.
The Board said its main interest in the annual run was to ensure that any shoals of sardines accompanied by large groups of predators are monitored and that the shark safety gear is managed accordingly to minimize any negative environmental impact of the gear.
“There are currently many shoals of various species of baitfish visible off the KZN coastline especially noticeable during periods of calm sea conditions. It is not possible to determine the different species of these baitfish from the air however the KZNSB has been sampling some of these shoals and have found that they consist of mainly of mackerel, east coast round herring, torpedo scads, amongst others. It is also not uncommon to find occasional sardines mixed in amongst the shoals during this time of the year,” said the board’s Mike Anderson-Reade.
During the flight numerous shoals of bait fish were observed along the entire flight route, however the first and only positive signs of sardines accompanied by associated predator activity, was seen just south of Mazeppa on the Eastern Cape coast some 210kms south of KwaZulu-Natal.
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It is highly likely that some small fast moving pockets of sardines are already present off the KZN coast and nettings by the commercial seine netters may well take place during the coming weeks.
“Shark safety gear remains in place at all protected beaches along the coast and all beaches with the exception of certain central Durban beaches remain open for bathing. Sunkist beach to North beach in Durban is closed due to the sand pumping operations that are currently being undertaken by the municipality. The current phase of the sand replenishment project is due to be completed on Friday, 8 June 2018 after which all beaches will be reopened,” said Anderson-Reade.
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