Nature’s Valley Trust’s new Marine Project launches this month!

Felix Zundel
9 September 2014
Meet Felix

Felix at the Natures Valley beach.

First of all I should introduce myself…my name is Felix Zundel and I am from Germany, 19 years old and currently studying Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Netherlands. And this is the reason why I am here, my study requires a 5 month internship in the second year and I have decided to come to South Africa. Things all got started when I met Shirley, a former intern at NVT, she told me about the amazing time she had with the NVT and so I started chatting with Mark Brown. During our email conversation I pointed out my interests, marine pollution and fisheries, and fortunately Mark seemed to have the perfect project for me.

The project I am going to work on focuses on recreational fisheries and their impact on our ecosystems. The two main aspects are the decline in fish size and numbers and the impact and abundance of marine litter produced by recreational fisheries. I am going to start the field work on this project for the first 4 months and early next year Lisa Schroeter will arrive and take the project onwards to a 12 months period. Fortunately this research is in some of its components a follow-up to research carried out 10 years ago, this makes it possible to identify changes, trends and developments in fishing effort, fish size and things like that.

Felix 2

Hook, line and sinker… This Kelp Gull would have grabbed the bait, and been dragged under water by the sinker, leading to slow drowning.

The data will be gathered by surveying fishermen on the coastline from NV to Plettenberg Bay and at the same time plastic debris on the beach will be collected and monitored later. The fisherman’s bins on the beach entrances of NV will also be monitored in order to get to know the impact of these bins on the fishing debris on the beach. We are also going to look out for entanglements in the birds we encounter on our beach surveys, and the gull colonies in Plettenberg Bay.

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A dead Kelp Gull found with fishing line wrapped around the body and both wings. A slow agonising death…

This exciting project is going to start in the middle of September and I am really looking forward to it, it is a very interesting project especially because the impact of recreational fisheries has been underestimated for a long time. Based on this research we also hope to be able to develop an educational programme for fishermen to ensure that our beaches stay clean and that our fish will still swim in 20 years.

Felix 4

Amputees like this adult Kelp Gull are invariably linked to discarded fishing line entanglements.