LOVED by many – but loathed by those who see his work as a drain on their livelihood – environmentalist Wayne Rudman lives what he preaches. So says George Whitehead, the man who nominated Rudman for the 2012 The Herald GM Citizen of the Year.
Chosen as one of the top five of the 12 final candidates, Rudman has been lauded for the work he does to reduce illegal bait harvesting and drag-netting on the Swartkops Estuary.
Whitehead, who has known Rudman for almost 30 years, said his nomination was based on the tremendous voluntary work Rudman does to save resources.
Rudman even won the Uitenhage Rotary Club's De Mist award for community service for his commitment to environmental education and safety of the community that frequents the estuary.
Whitehead describes Rudman as a man who lives what he preaches – even in his personal life.
"He partakes in sustainable fishing and hunting and teaches his 13-year-old son the same values."
Rudman's own fishing philosophy is to "catch and release", participating more for competition purposes than making it into a "blood sport" – catch, kill and eat.
Zwartkops Conservancy member and former Herald GM Citizen of the Year, Jenny Rump, described Rudman as "someone who goes beyond the call of duty".
She said his work was sometimes dangerous – requiring him to work at night and in the early morning on the estuary to catch gill-net fishermen.
"He is trying to stop illegal bait diggers, but also trying to get the legal ones to toe the line."
Rudman said: "We have a viable estuary but we need to take care of it. A lot of people love it, but they are loving it to death by exploiting bait resources and over-fishing."
The honorary conservation officer describes his work of encouraging voluntary compliance to sustainable harvesting in the Swartkops Estuary and coastal zone as challenging because he is loved by many, but loathed by others.
"Some people are abusive as they see you as someone who is taking away their livelihoods."
For almost four years the automotive engineer by profession has volunteered his time to enforce bait quotas and extraction methods. His work also aims to regulate the wearing of day-glo vests and the setting up of controlled sales points in the estuary.
"It is no longer the free-for-all it used to be in 2008, when we started monitoring what people were doing," he said.
Rudman's emphasis on sustainability is not just on the environment but also on the economic livelihoods of the local fishermen.
One of his ideas, is to give offenders community service rather than a fine or imprisonment.
Community service also has the added long-term benefit of becoming an alternative means of employment, he said.
This, because offenders do the much-needed work of picking up litter along the coastline every Saturday for a six-month period.