Monday, 7 January 2008

Octopus bashers and oyster thieves: the rape of our coastline

Why is it that a low spring tide brings holidaymakers scuttling on to the rocks like a swarm of starving cockroaches? It maddens, maddens, me everytime I spend time on the KZN coast, where my family has a cottage, to see a bunch of hairy-knuckled oafs (sorry, but that's what they are) lumbering out onto the exposed rocks with their big-boy knives and brazenly stripping the rock pools and crevices of every mussel, oyster, crayfish and quivering little sea creature in sight.

This is a scene that plays itself out day after day all the way up and down our coastline: nothing less than a wholesale rape of the environment. If you don't believe me, pay a visit to KZN during the sardine run, and watch anglers taking 60, 80, 100 undersized fish, each, out of the sea during a shad run.

Two weeks ago I was incensed by the sight of one of these neanderthals catching two small octopi with a sharpened hook, showing them off to his small grandchildren, and then, to my daughter's horror, seizing them by the tentacles and repeatedly braining them on the rocks. Then he strutted off, brandishing his hook, the great white hunter in full sail, to find a few more. What was he planning to do with these two little creatures? Eat them? Na, there wasn't enough for more than a few mouthfuls. Use them as bait? If so, why couldn't he just cut off a leg and chuck the animal back in the sea? (Sounds ghastly, but the limbs do regrow quickly. My grandpa, who fished these very rocks for over 50 years, never killed a 'pus but always 'borrowed' a leg for bait).

Look, I know it's legal to gather mussels, crayfish, etc, if you have bought the necessary licence, it's not closed season and you stick to the bag limit. But I doubt that any one of the many people I saw raiding the rocks this December had taken the trouble to buy a license, and they certainly weren't sticking the the bag limit: unless, of course, the authorities have increased the quote to 2000 mussels per man per day. (Anyone know what the legal limits for collecting octopi are?)

I exaggerate, of course, but I just can't fathom this kind of behaviour. What's the point? There's not much of a meal in them. (The mussels and crayfish in and around these rocks are frankly puny: they are a third of the size they were when I was a girl - even allowing for the fact that to a ten-year-old everything looks gigantic - and there are hardly any of them left. )

Do these boneheads realise what they're doing? Do they appreciate the damage they're doing to our delicate coastal ecosystem?

Does Mr Stupid get an extra-big shag from The Waaf because he staggered back up to the rented shally with two little octopi and ten kilograms of baby mussels that he slayed, all by himself?

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angel said...

oh juno... you're right, they really do wreck everything!
and i doubt the "waaf" has ever given a bj, let alone be enticed into giving an extra one because of some fresh (albeit miniature) seafood...

meggie said...

They are just rectal lookalikes, all of them. I hope they get poisoned if the ever eat any of them.