It was an early start for Slashfin's first groups of guests this morning as we tried to make the best of the nice weather gap with a launch onto a calm bay.
In a bid to combat the steady surge of abalone poachers that flocked to the Gansbaai coastline in the early years of the new millennium, the South African Government placed a ban on all diving activities from Gansbaai Harbour to Quoin Point.
Image courtesy of Google
The ban made no difference, in fact poaching syndicates and their criminal entourages descended on Gansbaai, infiltrating the community and bringing to an end the happy memories of summer fun spent snorkeling and scuba diving in the cool Atlantic waters. It meant that now, even your six year old would inadvertently be breaking the law if they went snorkelling at the Uilenkraalsmond beach resort.
Photo courtesy of International Marine Volunteers
Dive lovers and holiday makers who flocked to Gansbaai’s pristine stretch of coastline in the warm summer months began migrating to new destinations and all the while, local residents sat back and watched helplessly as the sea was plundered and stripped of perlemoen.
Photo courtesy of Marine Dynamics
After almost a decade of stolen watersports, two Gansbaai locals, Pieter de Villiers and Wilfred Chivell, eventually decided that enough was enough, and made a proactive decision to reclaim recreational diving rights by springing into action. Pieter is a grandfather who wants future generations of the de Villiers family to enjoy the ocean, and Wilfred is the CEO of Marine Dynamics, Dyer Island Cruises and founder of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. Both men are passionate about the ocean and are very adamant that what they are requesting from the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has nothing to do with taking any life out of the ocean but rather, the right to legally dive in it. They stand for what every recreational diver wants for themselves and their families...the right to snorkel, the right to SCUBA dive and the right to swim in the sea with a mask and fins. The Gansbaai coastline can offer residents and visitors to the area so much more than meets the eye.
Photo courtesy of Romansbaai Beach & Fynbos Estate
Thirteen local entities which included the ratepayers associations, local community leaders, the business chamber and several tourism and ecotourism organisations joined forces with Wilfred and Pieter who financed over R37,000 to employ the services Webber Wentzel Attorneys of Cape Town to start the action against the DAFF and to request a meeting. And, so began the Departments back and forth between various officials which finally resulted in a shut door...which until now has remained shut.
In January, follow-up correspondence was sent to the DAFF via the Attorneys who advised them that a court application would be imminent. The cost in taking the Minister of the DAFF to court clocks in at a hefty R95 000 and now the local community and recreational dive lovers (of which only 400 are needed) have been called on to join forces by contributing R250 each to reach the target.
In the event that there are insufficient funds, the action will be abandoned and the monies received donated to the local charities known as S.H.A.R.E and B.A.R.C.
Join the cause, stand up for your rights and stand together! Please be sure to send proof of payment to firstname.lastname@example.org for the donation to be valid.
Bank: Standard Bank of S.A
Branch: Cape Town
Branch Code: 020 009 / Universal Code: 051001
Account Name: Webber Wentzel Trust Account
Account No: 070431353
Reference: 2571756 (Diving Ban)