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Permit for 4x4s given by mistake  Rate Topic 
 Posted: Tue Mar 13th, 2007 10:45 am
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In spite of the ban on 4x4s on beaches, the authorities have allowed anglers in a three-day fishing competition to drive 13 vehicles on a sensitive stretch of coast during the breeding season of the threatened oystercatcher.

The South African Shore Angling Association has been given a permit to drive along a 15km stretch of coast near Mossel Bay, between Boggomsbaai and Dana, the second most important oystercatcher breeding site in the southern Cape.

Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) have admitted they were wrong to issue the permit, but say now they do not have the authority to revoke it.

Only Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk can do so but, by the time this happens, the fishing competition - which began on Thursday - is likely to have finished.
Ornithologists fear other sport anglers, many of whom are fiercely opposed to the beach ban on 4x4s, may use this as a precedent.

One of the major reasons for the 4x4 beach ban was to protect coastal birds. 

The vehicles may squash eggs and chicks, and also scare adults off their nests, which sometimes has led to eggs "frying" in the heat.

The oystercatcher breeding season runs from October to the end of March.

Fred Orban, former chairman of the Boggomsbaai Conservancy, said on Thursday: "The oystercatcher monitors were on the beach, trying to do their monitoring, but they couldn't because of the vehicles.

"How can MCM do this in the oystercatcher breeding season? It is not in the interests of the environment, or of the community,"

Sean Schneier, principal environment officer for MCM, said on Thursday that an MCM official had granted the permit erroneously.

"It was a serious error. Permits should not be granted for environmentally-sensitive areas. This is a priority area for oystercatcher breeding conservation," Schneier said.

He said steps were being taken to try to get the minister to revoke the permit.

UCT ornithologist Phil Hockey said that, fortunately, most of the oystercatcher chicks would have fledged by now. "It was an ill-informed decision.

"It is absolutely essential that this not be allowed to set a precedent for fishing competitions in the future," Hockey said.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 14th, 2007 07:02 pm
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What permit did they think they were granting?

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