Starting as a simple reef clean up dive by concerned locals in January 2018, the Strandloper Project has evolved into a research program that studies the impact of lost and discarded recreational fishing tackle on ghost fishing, reef damage and entanglements.
We currently focus on three research sites, namely Gericke;s Point, Kingfisher Creek and Knysna Heads.
Our dives surveys are along an established transect of reef, between 100m and 80m depending on the site. On each dive, we collect snagged recreational fishing line and sinkers and quantify volume of fishing line (monofilament and braided line) and get a tally for hooks, sinkers, swivels and associated tackle.
We also assess the condition of the reef during the survey dives. To date we have made the following observations :
- Reef damage of algae and invertebrates in high cast and recovery zones.
- Distinct zones of snagging. For example, one rock on the Gericke’s Point transect accounts for approximately 20% of all recovered snagged tackle.
- We have discovered evidence of lead poisoning as a result of the accumulation of lost lead sinkers.
- Ghost Fishing : To date we have recorded 5 species of fish that have died as a result of ghost fishing.
- Entanglements : To date we have recorded three species of birds killed from entanglements and from ingestion of discarded baited hooks.
Strandloper Project Expedition.
As part of our research, we need to get a regional comparison from our core study sites. In 2019 we initiated a coastal expedition from Blombos Nature Reserve to Wilderness. From the expedition we were able to compile reports for local conservation organisations and interest groups on the state of both washed up plastic and fishing debris pollution.
Expedition 2019 Reports.
Expedition 2020 : We are currently planning our next expedition between Natures Valley and Wilderness in October 2020.
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