An integrated approach is needed to manage Fynbos Fish.
The Fynbos Fish Trust has adopted a range of strategies and activities to protect these species.
Integrated Approach Strategy
Mechanical clearing, which allows us to remove invasive non-native species from river systems. Through a combination of activities such as gill netting, hand netting and electrofishing, we can remove invasive fish, without affecting indigenous species.
Chemical clearing must be carefully managed. We first undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment. Then populations of indigenous fish, and where relevant other natural aquatic species, are rescued from the site. The piscicides (chemicals) are added to the water-area. Because they are not species specific, they will kill both non-native and indigenous fish (but if the right concentration is used, their impact on other aquatic invertebrates is minimal). The chemicals are harmless to other wildlife and livestock. And within 24 hours, the water is no longer toxic to fish, and the area can be restocked. This should be done in areas where non-native fish can’t reinvade from downstream.
Where possible, and working with partners such as the Freshwater Research Centre, we monitor treated and untreated sites. We undertake basic habitat assessment and SASS samples, and keep records of species.
SHARE THE PLIGHT
It’s pointless to rehabilitate rivers and streams to protect Fynbos Fish if people – be it anglers or landowners – simply restock them with non-native fish. That’s why it’s vital that we share the plight of the Fynbos Fish with our stakeholders. Many people simply don’t realise the immense biodiversity value of these ancient species, or that they even exist in our Cape Fold Ecoregion. We work to rectify this lack of knowledge.
The role of our conservation authorities, in particular CapeNature, cannot be overstated. We work closely with these authorities, to encourage an integrated fish and river management strategy and to serve as a voice for these secretive species.
The Thee River is a perennial tributary of the Olifants River, draining from the Koue Bokkeveld Mountains in the Western Cape, South Africa. It is a freshwater fish conservation priority, as it contains six of the endemic and threatened fish species of the Olifants River.
The Clanwilliam sandfish may be headed for extinction faster than any other freshwater fish in the Cederberg district. That’s because of recruitment failure due to rivers drying up during the dry summer months, and predation by non-native fish like Bluegill sunfish.
The Breekkrans River, which originates in the Cederberg mountains, is home to five species of Fynbos Fish – including the Critically Endangered Doring River redfin. Four of these are ENDEMIC to the Olifants-Doring River system, and are therefore found nowhere else in the world.