Outgoing CEO Ian Wienburg leaves a strong legacy at the NSRI

Ian Wienburg with the Honda Dream Team at the Durban Boat Show

After almost 20 years at the helm of Sea Rescue as CEO, Ian Wienburg retires on 1 September 2013 with Dr Cleeve Robertson taking over the non-profit organisation. Ian will be remaining in the wings for a year to ensure a smooth transition and will have a little more time to use his considerable experience to raise funds for NSRI.

Ian joined NSRI in 1974 as a volunteer and moved up the ranks from crewman to coxswain. For many years he was part of the management committee of Station 3, which in those days was in Three Anchor Bay.

Ian was appointed CEO of NSRI in 1994. In his time at the head of the NSRI, Ian has set up 9 new rescue bases, from Kommetjie to Port St Johns and seen the number of volunteers increase to an amazing 941.

When Ian took over as CEO the Institute was not financially sound, and turning this around is one of his major legacies. Through very careful spending, keeping expenses to a minimum and hard fundraising, Ian got Sea Rescue onto the solid financial footing that the organisation is now on.

This allowed him to do one of the things that he is most passionate about. Making sure that the people who volunteer for NSRI duty have the very best equipment and boats available to go out to sea on rescues with. Recently this extended to the replacing of some of the ageing engines in the NSRI fleet with the more fuel-efficient four stroke Hondas.

“In a world where performance and reliability is so close across brands, it is often the service and so on that make a difference, said Ian.

“Honda engines are excellent, their fuel consumption is good but what really stands out at the moment is the service that they give NSRI, he said.

The Honda-powered NSRI RIB in Port Alfred PHOTO: Leisure Boating

“With my new role in Sea Rescue I hope to have a little more time to pursue some ideas that I have not had time to do while CEO and of course a lot more sailing,” grins Ian.



20 Years, 200 Wins for Honda in Indy Car Racing

Andre Ribeiro, 1st Honda Indy Car Victory, New Hampshire 1995

Scott Dixon’s July 14 Indy triumph at Pocono Raceway was a milestone event for American Honda and its Honda Performance Development racing arm representing the 200th Indy car race win for the manufacturer since entering the sport in 1994.

Scott Dixon, Honda's 200 Indy Car Win, Pocono, 2013

“I’d like to congratulate all of our associates at HPD, who have worked incredibly hard and made personal sacrifices to make the success of our racing programmes their top priority,” said Art St. Cyr, President of Honda Performance Development. “This is a milestone event for HPD and the Honda Indy car racing programme. It’s also a tribute to American Honda’s long-term commitment to the sport of Indy car racing, and our desire to see it grow and prosper.”

“I’d also like to thank Honda R&D for the continued assistance and support throughout our CART and IRL racing programmes, and our technical partners at Ilmor for their contributions to our IRL program.”

Honda’s Indy car racing debut was inauspicious: an eighth-place run in Surfers Paradise, Australia in March 1994. But the company’s North American open-wheel racing heritage began that day, including nine seasons of Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) competition; and another 11 to date in the Indy Racing League and INDYCAR. All of them leading to Honda’s 200th Indy car win by Dixon Sunday at Pocono Raceway, highlighting a 1-2-3 sweep for Honda and Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing team.

Honda’s first Indy car win, by Andre Ribeiro at New Hampshire International Speedway, didn’t come until August 20, 1995 – almost 18 months after that Surfers Paradise debut. It was the first of 65 CART race victories, resulting in four manufacturers’ championships between 1996 and 2002, and six consecutive drivers’ titles.

“Thinking back to 1995, when we won our first race after two years of testing, development and racing – and knowing the effort and hardship that went into achieving that milestone – it seems incredible that we’ve already reached our 200th win,” said Steve Eriksen, Vice President of Honda Performance Development (HPD), who was present for both landmark events.

“At the time of that first win, 200 wins would have seemed like a pure fantasy to us, not to mention all the titles, and additional racing programmes that have followed.”

Indy car win Number 10 came less than a year later, as Ribeiro posted his third career CART win at Michigan International Speedway. The 25th victory was a thrilling come-from-behind effort by eventual two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi at Cleveland in 1998; while the 50th win, in 2000 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, also marked the arrival of future three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves.

Honda moved to the Indy Racing League in 2003, and the winning continued. Honda’s most successful driver, Dario Franchitti – with 31 wins to date – scored the company’s 75th open-wheel race win at The Milwaukee Mile in 2004.

Team Penske’s Sam Hornish Jr. posted Honda’s landmark 100th Indy car win at Richmond International Raceway in 2006, as Honda embarked on a six-year run as single engine supplier in Indy car competition following consecutive IRL manufacturers’ championships in 2004-05. Victory number 150 came at Watkins Glen International Raceway with Justin Wilson, and was additionally significant as the first win for the Dale Coyne Racing team.

Prior to Pocono, Honda’s win at Detroit marked another first in Indy car for both driver Simon Pagenaud and his Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports team. It was Honda’s 199th Indy car race win, and the 100th with manufacturer competition.

Founded in 1993, HPD is the technical operations centre for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines and operates at race circuits around the world from its headquarters in Santa Clarita, California.

The company scored its first of nine consecutive Indianapolis 500 victories in 2004 with Buddy Rice; and became engine supplier to the entire IZOD IndyCar Series in 2006. Honda supplied racing engines to the full, 33-car Indianapolis 500 field every year from 2006-2011, and for a record-six consecutive years, the ‘500’ ran without a single engine failure.

In addition to its efforts in Indy car racing, HPD spearheaded championship-winning efforts in the 2009, 2010 and 2012 American Le Mans Series; 2010 Le Mans Series; and triumphed in the LMP2 category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in both 2010 and 2012. HPD offers a line of race engines for track applications from prototype sports cars to karting; and showcases “fun-to-drive” products for professional, amateur and entry-level efforts.

For photos from Honda’s first and 200th Indy car race wins, go to:

Honda 200 Indy Car Wins Fast Stats 
(CART 1994-2002; IRL & INDYCAR 2003-2013)

338 Races: 164 in CART, 174 in IRL and INDYCAR competition (through Pocono 2013)

200 Race Wins: 65 in CART 1994-2002, 135 in IRL and INDYCAR (through Pocono 2013)
101 wins in competition with other manufacturers

197 Pole Positions: 65 in CART 1994-2002, 132 in IRL and INDYCAR (through Pocono 2013)
112 poles in competition with other manufacturers

6 Manufacturers’ Championships in CART (1996, 1998-99, 2001) and the IRL (2004-05) in years with manufacturer competition

14 Drivers’ Championships: Jimmy Vasser (1996); Alex Zanardi (1997-98); Juan Pablo Montoya (1999); Gil de Ferran (2000-01); Tony Kanaan (2004); Dan Wheldon (2005); Sam Hornish Jr. (2006); Dario Franchitti (2007, 2009-11); Scott Dixon (2008)

9 Consecutive Indianapolis 500 Wins: Dario Franchitti (2007, 2010, 2012); Dan Wheldon (2005, 2011); Buddy Rice (1994); Sam Hornish Jr. (2006); Scott Dixon (2008); Helio Castroneves (2009)

13 Rookie of the Year winners: Alex Zanardi (1996); Tony Kanaan (1998); Juan Pablo Montoya (1999); Dan Wheldon (2003); Kosuke Matsuura (2004); Danica Patrick (2005); Marco Andretti (2006); Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007); Hideki Mutoh (2008); Raphael Matos (2009); Alex Lloyd (2010); James Hinchcliffe (2011); Simon Pagenaud (2013).

28 Winning Drivers: Dario Franchitti – 31; Scott Dixon – 24; Dan Wheldon and Helio Castroneves – 17; Tony Kanaan and Alex Zanardi – 15; Will Power – 12; Jimmy Vasser – 8; Juan Pablo Montoya and Gil de Ferran – 7; Ryan Briscoe and Paul Tracy – 6; Sam Hornish Jr. – 5; Adrian Fernandez – 4; Ryan Hunter-Reay, Justin Wilson, Andre Ribeiro, Buddy Rice – 3; Mike Conway, Marco Andretti, Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta – 2; Ed Carpenter, Graham Rahal, Simon Pagenaud, Danica Patrick, Takuma Sato and Scott Sharp – 1.

14 Winning Teams: Target Chip Ganassi Racing – 73; Team KOOL Green/Andretti Green Racing/Andretti Autosport – 57; Team Penske – 45; Tasman Motorsports – 5; Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Fernandez Racing – 4; Dale Coyne Racing – 3; Newman Haas Racing – 2; Sam Schmidt Motorsports, A.J. Foyt Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing, Bryan Herta Autosport, Walker Racing and Jim Hall Racing – 1.



Strakka Finishes Sixth, Wins Privateer Class at Le Mans

Le Mans Strakka LMP1

A consistent, solid run from the Honda Performance Development-equipped Strakka Racing brought the British-based team top honours in the LMP1 Privateer category and a sixth-overall finish at the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Strakka driving trio of Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis and Danny Watts brought its Honda-powered HPD ARX-03c through a rain and accident-plagued event that saw a total of six hours contested under caution. Strakka battled a two-car effort from Rebellion Racing throughout the first 18 hours, overcoming minor mechanical issues, a puncture and brief off-course excursion to split the Toyota-powered Rebellion Lolas as daylight returned to the Circuit de la Sarthe.

When Andrea Belicchi crashed the #13 Rebellion Toyota-Lola with just under six hours remaining, Strakka moved into the privateer team lead, and would hold its advantage through two rain showers in the final hours to score the inaugural official class victory for private LMP1 teams.  Only the full “works” manufacturer-entered teams from Audi and Toyota finished ahead.

The 90th running of the 24-hour racing classic was marred by a single-car crash in the opening hour that claimed the life of Danish racer Allan Simonsen, who was driving a GTE-category Aston Martin when he lost control and collided with the trackside barriers.

Le Mans Strakka LMP1

In LMP2, the largest class at Le Mans this year with 22 entries, the American-based Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b of Ryan Briscoe, Marino Franchitti and Scott Tucker battled a variety of issues that combined to blunt HPD’s attempt at a second-consecutive LMP2 victory at Le Mans, and third in the last four years.

Running third in class after three hours on the strength of a strong opening segment from Briscoe, a punctured tire befell Franchitti and cost the Level 5 team two laps with an unscheduled pit stop.  Additional problems, including excessive crankcase pressure, resulted in more time lost as the race approached the 12-hour mark.

The ARX-03b was eventually taken into the garage for additional repairs. Although this marked the first in-race failure in the three-year history of the production-based Honda HR28TT twin-turbo V6 engine, the Level 5 team was able to resume running in the final hour for team owner/driver Tucker to finish on track.

This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans also was the third round of the 2013 World Endurance Championship. The WEC now takes a two-month break before continuing September 1 with the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo, at the Interlagos circuit in Brazil.

Danny Watts (Strakka Racing HPD ARX-03a) finished 6th overall and 1st in the privateer category, first privateer win for Strakka in 2013: “It’s not really sunk in that I’ve been on the podium at Le Mans, because I’m so tired. I have to apologize to Jonny [Kane], because I missed his last race-finishing stint. I was asleep in the back of the truck! My side hurts a little, but I’m not so much physically whacked as mentally drained. It’s been a very emotional twenty-four hours with what happened to Allan Simonsen. I had to take the start from thirty-sixth on the grid, so there was a bit of pressure on me to stay out of trouble – which I managed to do. I went on and had a really good three-hour, forty-five minute stint which got us through all the GT and LMP2 cars. My second stint was at night and the car was consistent and fairly easy to drive. It’s great to win the LMP1 Privateers’ award, but what’s most important is that we get double points for the WEC. I think we can kick on from here, and really take the fight to the Rebellions.” 

Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development) on the 90th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans:  “A bit of a bittersweet day for us. Of course, we were very happy to see another solid effort from Strakka Racing finally rewarded, with their privateer LMP1 championship, and sixth-place overall finish. It was a wonderful result for a team that continues to impress with their consistency and excellent preparation. But we’re a little bit disappointed with our result in LMP2, where we were seeking our third class win since 2010.  We had high hopes for the Level 5 team this weekend, but unfortunately the crankcase pressure issue prevented them from contending for the victory, but the team persevered and was back on track for the finish. Finally, our thoughts are with the family, associates and many friends of Allan Simonsen. While not a member of the HPD family, he was a racer, like everyone at HPD. His loss is a loss for us all.”

24 Hours of Le Mans                                                                                                                                         Race Report

Circuit:             Circuit de la Sarthe (8.47-mile road course) Le Mans, France

Weather:        Frequent rain showers, mild, 65 degrees F

Top 10 Race Results:

The Strakka LMP1 came 6th overall and was the 1st Privateer Team entry to finish

Ps. Class Drivers Team Chassis/Engine Laps/Notes
1. 1. P1 Loic Duval/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish Audi Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro 348 laps
2. 2. P1 Sebastien Buemi/Anthony Davidson/ Stephane Sarrazin Toyota Oreca Toyota TS030 Hybrid 347 laps
3. 3. P1 Lucas di Grassi/Marc Gene/Oliver Jarvis Audi Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro 347 laps
4. 4. P1 Nicolas Lapierre/Kazuki Nakajima/Alex Wurz Toyota Oreca Toyota TS030 Hybrid 341 laps
5. 5. P1 Marcel Fassler/Andre Lotterer/Benoit Treluyer Audi Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro 338 laps
6. 6. P1 Jonny Kane/Nick Leventis/Danny Watts Strakka Racing HPD ARX-03c Honda 332 laps
7. 1. P2 Bertrand Baguette/Ricardo Gonzalez/Martin Plowman OAK Racing Morgan Nissan 329 laps
8. 2. P2 Alex Brundle/David Heinemier-Hansson/ Oliver Pla OAK Racing Morgan Nissan 328 laps
9. 3. P2 Mike Conway/John Martin/Romain Rusinov G-Drive/ADR Oreca 03 Nissan 327 laps
10. 4. P2 Michael Krumm/Jann Mardenborough/ Lucas Ordonez Greaves Motorsports Zytek Z11-SN Nissan 327 laps

Other Honda-powered Results:

43. 14.2 Ryan Briscoe/Marino Franchitti/Scott Tucker Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-02b Honda 242 laps



MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2013 – Round 09: U.S.A. – July 21, 2013

Honda first and second in Laguna Seca triumph

Marc Marquez & Stefan Bradl on the podium at Laguna Seca

Repsol Honda RC213V rider Marc Marquez continued his record-breaking maiden MotoGP season with a second successive race win in the US GP. It is the 20-year-old’s third win in nine races, and extends his points lead in the World Championship. He now leads team-mate Dani Pedrosa by 16 points. For Honda, it was the third win in succession at the charismatic Californian circuit, and the sixth in nine visits in the current series of the race.

Honda secured second place as well, with a fine first podium finish for Stefan Bradl, Marquez’s old Moto2 rival and fellow former Moto2 champion. The German LCR Honda RC213V rider had started from his first pole position, and led to beyond the halfway point of the 32-lap race.

Stefan Bradl

Third Honda rider Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) missed making it an all-Honda rostrum by less than a tenth of a second, hounding former Laguna winner Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) over the finish line.

It was a heroic afternoon for Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V). Riding with a partial collarbone fracture, he finished a strong fifth, claiming valuable points to preserve his second place in the championship at the mid-point of the season. The plucky ride stretched his lead over third-placed Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) to ten points.

Dani Pedrosa rode bravely with a collar bone injury

The race, round the shortest circuit of the year, had both tension and drama for 46,000 spectators, enjoying perfect Californian sunshine at the track in the hills inland from fashionable Monterey.

Bradl made a perfect start to lead the first 18 laps. In the early stages he secured a margin of almost two seconds, but after four laps Marquez was through to second, and gradually closed up. The German was eventually obliged to give best after his rival demonstrated better edge-grip in the sinuous Californian circuit’s many turns, but continued lapping at close to record pace to claim his first rostrum, and a career-best second place.

Marquez showed little sign that he was still learning the intricacies of the complex and physically gruelling short circuit. He seized second from Rossi on the fourth lap with a forceful passing move at the famous Corkscrew corner, replicating one of the Italian champion’s own famous attacks. Thereafter he concentrated on catching and following Bradl, before seizing his moment for a clean overtake and the chance to open a gap still better than 2.2 seconds as he coasted across the line.

Marc Marquez

Bautista was disappointed that his sustained efforts to pass Rossi for his own first rostrum this year were thwarted, but pleased with his best result so far, demonstrating how the exclusive Showa suspension test rider is regaining strength after two first-lap crashes earlier this season.

Alvaro Bautista

Pedrosa demonstrated grit and skill in equal measure in a weekend of endurance. Still suffering a partial fracture to his left collarbone sustained in a crash that ruled him out of last weekend’s German GP, the Spaniard sat out the morning practice sessions and started from the third row of the grid. Through the race however he gained speed, and eventually outpaced third placed title rival Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), who was riding with his own collarbone injury.

Grand prix rookie Bryan Staring (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) finished 17th, his hopes of adding to his points score thwarted in the later laps. Series first-timer Staring rides in the CRT category, his machine powered by a race-tuned CBR1000RR motor.

The US GP marks the end of the first half of the 2013 season, followed by the summer break of three weekends. Racing resumes in the United States on August 16-18 at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indianapolis GP, third round of the year in the USA. This is followed by a rapid return to Europe with races in the Czech Republic and Great Britain over the following two weekends.

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix
 Round 09: U.S.A.


Rank Rider (Team)


Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)


Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)


Valentino ROSSI (Yamaha Factory Racing)


Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO&FUN Honda Gresini)


Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)


Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racin)


Cal CRUTCHLOW ( Monster Yamaha Tech 3)


Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)


Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)


Hector BARBERA (Avintia Blusens)


Alex DE ANGELIS (Ignite Pramac Racing)


Colin EDWARDS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)


Danilo PETRUCCI (Came IodaRacing Project)


Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)


Yonny HERNANDEZ (Paul Bird Motorsport)



Chaparral 257 SSX: 
Premium Luxury and Performance (courtesy of

Luxury wherever you look...

Sometimes we test luxury sportboats and find that they are a bit disappointing in the performance and handling department. Occasionally they chinewalk or fall off in the turns, or have lacklustre acceleration. Here, however, we found a luxury boat that does not disappoint. The Chaparral 257 SSX is among some of the best handling sportboats we’ve been on.

Chaparral 257 SSX

To read the review click on the link:



Chaparral 244 Xtreme: 
Making Waves in More Ways Than One (courtesy of

Chaparral 224 Xtreme

When it comes to specialized wake-making boats, the Chaparral 244 Xtreme is in the top echelon, right up there with the specialized inboard ski/wake models. How could that be so? Simply because the 244 Xtreme started with a huge advantage over those classic skiboats designed to have no wake at all – the 244 has a 20-degree deep-V bottom at the transom which makes a pretty big wake!

Chaparral 224 Xtreme

To read the review click on the link:



GPS – How will it benefit my boating experience? (info courtesy of

If you're going offshore, a GPS navigational system is highly advisable

GPS, or Global Positioning System, is a satellite-based navigation system developed by the U.S. Department of Defense to provide a consistent, accurate method of simplifying navigation. It was originally designed for the military, however, it provides both commercial and recreational users 24 hour, worldwide navigation coverage with a possible accuracy to 15 metres (49 feet). Like any other method of navigation, you should not rely solely on your GPS. You should use every method of navigation available and compare the results to make sure that you are where you think you are.

What are the Advantages of GPS Navigation?

Garmin GPSmap 420s

For centuries, mariners have been searching for an accurate method of traveling the world’s waterways. From celestial navigation to lorans and SatNav, each system has had its problems with weather, range and reliability.

GPS takes navigation to a higher level by providing accurate position and course information, anywhere in the world, regardless of the weather or your proximity to land. The accuracy and coverage of GPS navigation can help make your boating safer, smarter and more efficient wherever you may travel.

The GPS is a powerful tool. To better understand its operation and capabilities, it may be helpful to review the basic terms and concepts explained below:

  • Navigation is the process of traveling from one place to another and knowing where you are in relation to your desired course.
  • Position is an exact, unique location based on a geographic coordinate system. Marine navigation is based on the latitude/longitude coordinate system.
  • Meridians of longitude are a set of imaginary circles around the earth that pass through the north and south poles. Longitude describes position in terms of how many degrees it is east or west of the Prime Meridian (0° Longitude which runs through Greenwich England).
  • Parallels of latitude are another set of imaginary circles that are perpendicular to the earth’s polar axis. Latitude describes position in terms of how many degrees it is north or south of the equator (0° Latitude).
  • A waypoint marks an exact position fix so it can be recalled for future use. The GPS lets you mark waypoints electronically, without physical landmarks.
  • Bearing is a compass direction to a particular destination (waypoint) from your present position.
  • Track is a compass direction representing your course over ground or course made good.

How Does GPS Work?

Garmin GPSmap 521s

GPS Navigation uses orbiting satellite signals to determine your position. These satellites continually send out radio signals containing precise position and time information back to earth. By knowing the position of 3, 4 or more of these satellites and calculating various time differences between the transmitted signals, your GPS receiver can determine its present position anywhere on earth. Once underway, your GPS continually updates your position and provides speed and track information.

What information do I get from a GPS?

Various manufacturers make GPS’s and some have more features than others but all give basically the same information. Almost all of them have graphic displays and some even have a cartographic feature which allows you to see your location on an electronic chart. If you are going for a fixed mounted GPS rather than a handheld portable, we would vote for a model that does support electronic charts. This provides yet another way of checking your position, especially if you are in site of land or an object on the chart.

You should expect your GPS to accept waypoints (where you want to go) and routes (a series of waypoints leading to your final destination). Once you have input a waypoint the GPS will calculate your current position and give you, at minimum, the following information:

•                A course to steer to the waypoint (continually updated)

•                The distance to the waypoint (continually updated)

•                Once underway your speed (continually updated)

•                The time it will take to get to the waypoint at your current speed (continually updated)

•                Turn, Steer or Off-Course Error – the GPS should tell you when you are off course and what direction to turn to get back on course.

•                Various alarms should be available such as:

an arrival alarm which sounds when approaching a waypoint;
a proximity alarm which sounds when you come within a preset distance of any of several
waypoints, regardless of whether they are your destination;
an anchor alarm which sounds when you travel more than a preset distance from a
an off-course alarm which sounds whenever you are exceeding a preset
distance from your intended course.

With all this information could I share it with other electronics?

The majority of GPS' today are NMEA2000 compliant, allowing information to be shared and viewed

The ability of a GPS to share information with an autopilot, radar, or plotter adds to the utility and power of the device. Just think of having the ability to feed your autopilot information on a multi-leg route to a favourite diving spot and having your boat guide itself safely there, leaving you free to ready the equipment, monitor the radar, and stand watch.

Should I buy one?

It is generally felt that GPS receivers are essential if you are going out to sea. So whether the requirement is either for a portable handheld marine GPS receiver or fixed mounted model, contact your local Honda Marine dealer for further information on available options and pricing.

In bad weather conditions, your GPS system can be your best friend!

At the end of the day, it’s just a must to know your position in any weather, anywhere on earth, within just a few metres? Like the computer revolution, the GPS revolution is a great example of increasing features, increasing user friendliness, and decreasing costs.

*Above all though, please remember that you should never rely on only one method of navigation, especially if you will be out of sight of land.






Signs of hope for SA’s linefish
By John Duncan – Senior Manager WWF-SA Marine Programme

Rock surf Anglers PHOTO: Peter Chadwick

In the sea of unending stories of despair around fisheries collapse and increasing poverty in coastal communities, the recent news that for the first time in over a decade, some of our critically over-exploited linefish species are starting to show signs of recovery shines through as a beacon of hope.

Although the local linefishery may not be a significant revenue earner in terms of direct earnings compared to the hake trawl fishery, it is a very important fishery, both culturally and economically. The recent news that some of the commercially important linefish species such as kob and carpenter have started to show signs of recovery will no doubt be welcomed by many, including the estimated 130 000 people around South Africa who generate some form of livelihood from the fishery.

However, before every man and his dog reaches for his fishing rod, it is important to understand what the science is telling us. The good news is that these stocks appear to be increasing; however, the bad news is that these stocks are still well below the optimal harvesting level commonly known as maximum sustainable yield (MSY). In simplified medical terms, these stocks are still not well enough to leave the hospital but they are at least no longer in the intensive care unit.

Fishermen's 4x4's on the beach PHOTO: Peter Chadwick

While these findings represent a cautiously positive story for fishers, the initial indications of linefish stocks rebuilding tell a much more important story, one that is perhaps harder to hear but that our current fishers and managers would do well to take note of; Twelve years ago the Department declared a state of emergency in the traditional linefishery. The best available science indicated that many of our commercially important linefish stocks had been depleted to less than 15% of their pristine levels and would soon be remembered only from the black and white trophy photographs found hanging in your local pub.

In the face of this crisis, the Department needed to make some difficult and often unpopular decisions, one of which was to cut the number of licenses in the fishery by more than 70%. Towards the end of 2001, further steps were then taken with the implementation of the highly contentious beach-driving ban which resulted in many previously-fished areas becoming de facto reserves as most fishers were no longer able to access them. At the time, the Department was heavily criticized for these decisions and faced a number of challenges, legal and otherwise from the public and affected fishers. However, to its credit, the Department stood firm on these decisions, which is why today, more than a decade later, we are starting to see some of these linefish populations starting to rebound. Although it is difficult to quantify the impact of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) at such large scales, it is almost certain that the creation of these refuge areas for many key linefish species, has also played a role in effecting this recovery.

In a world where we are increasingly faced with stories of fisheries collapse and the resultant poverty and hunger which follows in the wake of overfishing, these signs of recovery are indeed heartening. Critically, they highlight the importance of having robust scientific information upon which to base management decisions and being brave enough to implement them in the face of the political challenges that will inevitably follow.

This is all the more important given the impending implementation of the government’s new small-scale fisheries policy which will govern the management of many important inshore resources such as rock-lobsters, abalone and most linefish species. This much-anticipated policy, which has been in development for over 6 years, represents a sea-change in the government’s approach to the management of small-scale fisheries. The policy, which will effectively see coastal communities becoming increasingly empowered to manage their local marine resources themselves, presents a number of novel opportunities for the development of this historically marginalized fishing sector, however, there are also a number of risks in the policy’s approach and as always, the devil is in the details…

Red Stumpnose juvenile in kelp forest PHOTO: Peter Chadwick

Much has changed over the last decade, not all for the worse.  South Africa has a very proud tradition of fisheries management dating back over a hundred years to the appointment of the government’s first fisheries scientist in 1907. South Africa was also the first African country to declare an MPA (Tsitsikamma), which is now almost half a century old.

Safeguarding our marine resources and the science-based approach to their management is a critical piece of the puzzle in ensuring that South Africa continues to enjoy healthy marine ecosystems. In implementing the drastic measures it did in the linefishery twelve years ago, our government showed that it was willing to make hard decisions, difficult as they were at the time, in order to prioritize the long-term survival of our marine ecosystems and the fishers that depend on them.

With the implementation of the new small-scale fisheries policy and in the face of growing threats of mining in the marine environment, the government will once again face some difficult decisions. It is our hope that in making these decisions, the Department will not allow good science to be trumped by politics, because while our politicians may serve us for only five years, if well looked after, our marine ecosystems will continue to provide a source of food and livelihood to society indefinitely.