Disgruntled Hole-in-the-Wall cottage owner

Friday, June 28, 2002

“This was posted on our message board by a disgruntled cottage owner, unfortunayel he didnt leave his name or contact details.”

His words were “don't read this if you don't want to”

FEELINGS among cottage owners at Hole-in-the-Wall in the run-up to the national spearfishing competition scheduled for the Wild Coast resort in July, are running high.

"I read with interest the item in your column of Thursday, May 9 (Spearfishing storm)," writes Clem Geraghty, of George, who says he represents the 25 cottage owners there. "In particular I was interested in the last statement made by Len Turner (organiser of the competition and chairman of the SA Spearfishing Association), that 'the trouble is cottage owners want all the fish in the area to be their own'. I can assure you this is not their petty view.

"We are, however, very concerned with environmental affairs in general and that of the Hole-in-the-Wall area in particular. The local community depends for much of their livelihood on the products of the sea and the more the fish stock is depleted for 'sport' the less remains for the 'pot'. We believe there are more fishermen/spearfishermen who ignore bag limits and sizes than those who 'stick to the rules'. As cottage owners we see these laws broken almost daily by visitors and community alike. However, while not a justification, we believe the community would not be so blatant if it weren't for the market created by those who have no concern for the long term sustainability of fish resources.

"It is wanton disregard of the laws that annoy cottage owners. If a spearfishing competition were indeed held with strict regard to bag limits and sizes, no-one would complain. However, what we witnessed in 1999 was a murder of fish stocks with no regard to limits. It was reported to myself at the time that refrigerated trucks arrived after dark to load fish and move them to commercial markets or wherever.

"It is naive to believe that a spearfisherman in a national competition, which measures success on size, would stop after spearing only two fish of a species. He is much more likely to carry on until the largest of that species can be speared in the allotted time.

"We also found it interesting that it is the Border Underwater Club which is anti having the competition at Hole-in-the-Wall again after only three years. This club is obviously better informed and knowledgeable about the harm that will be done to the fish stock in the area. None of these members are cottage owners there.

"We would also like to question a couple of statements made by Turner of SASA who states that 'for 99% of the year you can't dive there anyway because of water colour and weather'. This is patent nonsense from what we see while resident in our cottages. If the statement were true, the chance of holding the competition in July would be 0,5%. If four days had been possible up to July the chances of holding the competition would be nil.

"Also, how does SASA hope to ban diving in the area for a month before the competition? They have no jurisdiction to do this. When all is said and done cottage owners and community do not welcome a repeat of another national competition at Hole-in-the-Wall because of the blatant disregard of ecological rules. If, however, we are proven wrong, then we will apologise," Geraghty says.