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Chumming fines co-incide with issuing of whale permit
18 April 2011
Guy Rogers

NELSON Mandela Bay Municipality has issued four fines to marine tourism operator Lloyd Edwards related to the controversial chumming incident off Humewood Beach last month. The issuing of the fines at the Port Elizabeth beach office on Friday co-incides with the issuing this week of the long-awaited boat-based whale watching (BBWW) license for Algoa Bay – to Edwards.

It also runs parallel to a process launched in Cape Town last week in which the marine consultancy Feike has called on the public protector to scrutinise Edwards’ operation and the response of the environment department.

Captured on the metro’s CCTV camera, the chumming incident erupted when the metro and other parties arguing that it could have attracted sharks into a bathing area and that it threatened the security of the up-coming Ironman competition, which includes an open-water swim.

Edwards yesterday repeated his contention that he had not been “chumming” and was simply “feeding the seagulls” to attract them for a film cameraman on board. He said the handfuls of hake he was throwing into the water were too small  to attract sharks. He argued that the criticism was part of a campaign to derail his bid to win the BBWW permit for Algoa Bay.

On Friday, the metro’s  coastal environment unit chief Godfrey Murrell said only that the fines were issued to “the owner of the vessel involved in the matter”, but statements at the time from the local authority said the boat involved was Orca, which is owned by Edwards, who runs the marine eco-tourism outfit Raggy Charters.

Murrell said that while he could confirm four fines were issued on Friday, he could not detail how much they amounted to, or what legislation they are based on.

“By receiving these fines, the owner of the vessel has not admitted guilt. He has 30 days to pay them, or else the matter is passed on automatically to the courts, and he then has a further 30 days to appear to contest them in court.

“So the matter remains sub judice until he has either paid one or all of the fines, thereby admitting guilt in that particular regard, or until the court has ruled on the matter.”

Murrell said the chumming incident amounted, in his view, to “inappropriate action in a public open space”.

“It has been dealt with now from our side, following consultation with the national environment department’s coastal division.”

He said he wanted to emphasise that the incident had nothing to do with the application process for the BBWW permit for Algoa Bay, in his view.

He said that the incident and subsequent investigation had shown the metro, however, that their by-laws around chumming and related activity, need to be scrutinised and possibly amended.

The four fines issued are based on existing by-laws, but they could have been tougher if these by-laws had already been sharpened, he said.

Contacted earlier in the week for comment, Zolile Nqayi, spokesman for the environment department’s oceans’ and coastal division, confirmed that officials from this division had visited PE to view the CCTV footage of the chumming, and to talk to metro staff who first spotted and stopped the activity.

It had been agreed that the metro should deal with the matter, “in terms of several of their by-laws relating to safety”, he said.

Last year, the BBWW application process erupted when it was revealed that Raggy Charters’ BEE partner was a SANParks official. Edwards has argued that the department initially communicated to him that this was not a conflict of interest.

He subsequently jettisoned this partner in favour of a black woman student from NMMU, however. But critics, led by Feike, the marine fisheries’ consultancy, have argued that the initial inclusion of an official from  SANParks, which is a division of the government’s environment department, was a “material defect” in the Raggy Charters application, and the department should never have allowed it to be changed and re-issued.

Nqayi has rejected the accusation that this was inappropriate, saying “all applicants were given opportunity to rectify material defects”.

Feike MD Shaheen Moolla, the former director for law enforcement in the government’s marine and coastal management department, who used to manage this tourism sector, said last week he had lodged a complaint with the public protector.

The complaint charges that boat-based whale watching and advertising for this activity was undertaken by Raggy Charters before the permit was issued. It further focuses on the BEE partner matter, and finally on the chumming incident.

Moolla, who helped enforce chumming laws when they were first enacted in order to better manage the white shark cage diving industry, said chumming is illegal without a permit, whatever the amount involved, because it attracts sharks.

Edwards’ activity was also illegal under the Integrated Coastal Marine Act in terms of the “dumping effluent” clause and, lastly, under  the Seabird and Seals’ Protection Act which. prohibits disturbance or attraction of seabirds without a permit, he said.

“These laws are aimed at combating gangster activity in an industry that relies heavily on reputation, on the one hand, and also on potentially dangerous animals like whales and sharks, on the other hand. For the sake of the industry, these laws have to be enforced.”

Edwards said his unusually high BBWW applicant score, the fifth highest of the 51 applicants around the coast, should be considered by people seeking an objective understanding of the matter. He said Moolla’s criticism was fuelled by “sour grapes” as Feike supported another applicant for the Algoa Bay permit.

“It is good news for tourism in Port Elizabeth that the Whale Watching Permit for Algoa Bay has finally been awarded. Everyone involved in tourism will benefit from this as tourists arrive in PE to see what wonders the bay has to offer.”

 

 

 



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Your comments

Karen [13 February 2012 11:43]
I have to agree with BrandGat. Lloyd Edwards has been operating in the Bay area for a number of years, and I have used Raggy Charters on a personal and corporate basis on many occasions. I don’t know another person who works more “by the book” than him. The so-called “chumming” incident sounds suspicious – I have never in all the years experienced Lloyd to make himself guilty of such an offence. On the contrary. His conservancy efforts in the PE area need to be commended – has everyone forgotten the role he played in bringing abalone poachers to the book? Or the time he saved a baby whale tangled in nets when no-one else (including Bay World) came to the party? I smell a big, fat rat! Just wondering what favours are being dished out again in giving the license to someone else? Lloyd – keep going, you have done some really tremendous stuff and I hope you will continue to do so!
Report Abuse

BrandGat [10 February 2012 10:47]
Looks like Lloyd Edwards is being set up here,and the someone is being lined up to get the required permit! dirty tricks again?
Report Abuse

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Your Views

Ruffstuff786 2 March 2012 8:30 am

Give this man Derrick Hannekom a BELLS….

thirsty 1 March 2012 11:19 am

What a great day, today I drink Champagne !!!!!!!…

BrandGat 1 March 2012 6:27 am

Great news for the country bad boy Malema aka ‘JuJu’ has been given his marching orders,that`s one obstacle out the way….

sarunds 29 February 2012 4:56 pm

I guess a nuclear power station or coal fired power station would be preferable, just as long as its ‘Not In My Back Yard’ NIMBY! How tragic that we are trying to stop green energy just because it wi…

BrandGat 29 February 2012 7:03 am

Good work by Nomusa Mnguni at The refuse department NMMU clearing our Refuse overlooked by the truck on Monday. Give that man a Bells!…

BrandGat 27 February 2012 12:29 pm

WALMER SHACKS BURNING! Why is the ANC not doing anything for these people who stoically vote for them each election only to be let down again and again.The housing fiasco is getting very circus like!…

White Settler 25 February 2012 8:35 am

You are only guilty(corrupt) if you have been caught and exposed and sentenced. IF the people who are policing this exposing and sentencing are also corrupt then no one is corrupt. We therefor do not …

White Settler 25 February 2012 8:35 am

You are only guilty(corrupt) if you have been caught and exposed and sentenced. IF the people who are policing this exposing and sentencing are also corrupt then no one is corrupt. We therefor do not …

dokhotelo 23 February 2012 9:47 pm

…Mathale says his province leads the nation in good financial record keeping………Zuma says South Africa is the only country with a program to fight corruption………. HA HA HA HA……no wonde…

dokhotelo 23 February 2012 8:59 pm

…….HA HA HA HA HA………Trying to find out the real age of the ANC by looking for the origins of the “predator” genes !!!!!!!……………….