Bottom Fish Conservation at ECM Ford Species
PE comp promotes bottom fish conservation among SA fishing competitions. Plus: Watch vid on how ECM Ford Species Challenge and PEDSAC work with Rhodes University to conserve bottom species
12 October 2018
A boat angling competition that prizes bottom fish conservation? You don’t see that very often – if at all. In South Africa, there are a few game- and billfish comps that function on catch and release, but little to no bottom fish ones.
That’s where the (Eastern Cape Motors) ECM Species Challenge, hosted at the Port Elizabeth Deep Sea Angling Club (PEDSAC) 14–15 March 2020, is different. It’s a two-day comp where 6 out of the 10 (up from 4 last year) of the bottom species on the comp list are mandatory catch, weigh and release. A new format of competition that took some smarts, dedication and collaboration with a top SA university to make possible.
THE FUTURE OF COMPETITIVE BOTTOM FISHING
“Our ultimate goal is to be 100% catch and release soon,” says PEDSAC chairman Richard Donaldson. “We’ve already worked closely with the experts at Rhodes University’s SAFER Lab to go from 4 mandatory release species in 2017 to releasing 6 in this year’s competition.”
Working with PEDSAC and anglers, the SA Fisheries Ecology Research (SAFER) Lab initiative of Rhodes University helped develop over the last two years a unique model for bottom fish conservation through safer and more effective catch, weigh and release. And it has been able to expand that model to include more and more species, allowing competitive anglers to fish and release bottom fish species in a way that helps ensure the fish’s survival.
WATCH: WHAT TO EXPECT AT COMP AND SAFER LAB AT WORK TO SAVE FISH SPECIES
THE SPECIES LIST AT ECM FORD SPECIES 2018
Plus the minimum weights:
Miss Lucy (2.5kg)
HOW THE COMP WORKS
The ECM Ford Species Challenge is open to all anglers. Enter before 15 October for R450 per angler or at R500 per angler thereafter. Just keep to the rules of bottom fish conservation.
The six red data species: scotsman, kob, red roman, poenskop, daggerhead and miss lucy must be measured (on specific measuring mats provided), with clear photos and time-stamped video footage taken before release. Release is mandatory and there are severe penalties for not releasing. Plus: You have to do all the weighing as quickly as possible, as advised and briefed by comp officials to ensure the fish’s survival. What’s more, anglers are encouraged to release all other species: basterman, carpenter, yellowtail and stockfish, too, if at all possible.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED
“We used to sponsor the tuna derby here in Port Elizabeth, years ago,” says Alan Percy, dealer principal at Eastern Cape Motors Ford, the main sponsor of the competition. “And then, the tuna along our coast became more and more scarce. A wake-up call. So we halted that.”
And when the opportunity came along to sponsor another competition, Alan, a fisherman himself, saw it as a chance to try and do things differently.
“We wanted to have a more inclusive competition, where more anglers and even smaller boats could take part, so a bottom fish competition made sense. But we also wanted to protect our marine species. So we brought in the experts from Rhodes University to help us come up with the format that is probably SA’s first competition that actively strives to promote bottom fish conservation at this level.”
Some pic credits: @ Thelma Nel Photography
ABOUT THE ECM FORD SPECIES CHALLENGE
Apart from bottom fish conservation, the competition, 14–15 March, is also a lot of fun and well worth entering. There are cash prizes for the 10 heaviest fish, ranging from R1000–R10,000. Three top boat prizes range from R5000–R20,000. Check out this year’s ECM Species Challenge.
HOW TO ENTER
Contact Denise on +27 (0)41 582 2701 between 8:30 and 11:30 on weekdays, or find details on www.pedsac.co.za.
Read more about membership and the awesome facilities at PEDSAC in Port Elizabeth.
See you there!
For some more awesome yellowtail fishing in August further afield, check out the West Coast Yzerfontein Yellowtail Challenge.
See all the big fishing competitions happening in November 2018 and all the fishing competitions happening throughout the year.
Also discover this year’s Junior Bottom Fish Nationals and what you need to do to win big at the 1 Day Tuna Derby in PE. Plus: See the senior and master anglers in action at the 2019 SADSAA bottom fish nationals.
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