Tue. Sep 29th, 2020

Sardine run: Only permit holding netters allowed on beaches

All signs point to the sardine run being imminent but the national lockdown is expected to keep many away from the beach.

sardine run only permit holding netters allowed on beaches 1024x683 - Sardine run: Only permit holding netters allowed on beaches

The annual sardine run could take place over the course of the next week if all things come together, but the public have been warned that restrictions remain in place on beaches.

This year’s sardine run may attract fewer humans to the coastline as a result of the national lockdown. However, licensed netters will be allowed into the surf according to the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board and department of tourism.

Sardine run imminent

This week, sharks board planes spotted movements of sardines from the cold waters of Cape Agulhas prompting excitement amongst fishermen and the coastal communities.

The annual migration of billions of Southern African pilchard (Sardinops sagax) attracts not only fishermen but also predators and other marine wildlife.

Ordinarily coastal communties come out in force and the beaches can be almost as crowded as the waters teeming with sardines.

Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube warned the public that swimming remains prohibited and asked that only permitted netters gather on beaches in the coming days.

“As per [lockdown] regulations, swimming is prohibited. Therefore for the public safety is warned not to venture out to any beach between Port Edward in the south and Richards Bay in the north,” the MEC’s office said this week.

Netters must carry permits at all times

Fishermen eager to take advantage of the sardine run have been reminded to carry their permits at all times.

South Africans have also been warned that the shark nets that protect many Kwazulu-Natal beaches have been lifted in anticipation of the feeding frenzy that accompanies the natural phenomenon.

b488c937 sardine run - Sardine run: Only permit holding netters allowed on beaches
A young boy shows sardines caught at the Amanzimtoti beach, south of Durban on 3 July, 2019. – Like the running of the bulls in Spain, the migration of the wildebeest across Kenya, the sardine run along South Africa’s East Coast is an annual event attracting thousands of locals and tourists. Each year massive shoals of sardines stretching hundreds of miles draw thousands of sharks, dolphins and gannets hovering above the fish. Masses of fishermen, locals line the shores to watch, catch and some sell them. (Photo by RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP)

The sardine run is traditionally a family and community event but netters have been asked not to bring anyone along with them to the beach.

“In addition, they are advised not to bring any family members with them in line with health protocols and social distancing in particular. Only permit holding netters are allowed,” the department said.

“When the country enters [lockdown] level one the Sharks Board will be at the forefront of ensuring the safety of our beach lovers.”

Fishermen await sardine run

The first shoals of sardines were spotted in Durban last week, but the full rush has yet to kick in.

Despite being an almost annual event, there is still a lot we don’t know about the sardine run although it is believed that the water temperature needs to drop below 21 °C in order for the migration to take place.

In 2003 and 2006 the sardine run did not take place in full force.

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