Fighting for Reef Fish

Photography by Joris van Alphen | Words by Philippa Ehrlich
In December 1968, Geoff Fridjhon posed for a photo holding a large white musselcracker Sparodon durbanensis he had caught while spearfishing off Dalebrook beach. A fish of this size would have been close to 30 years old. Forty-six years later Fridgeon stands in the exact same spot holding an enlargement of the photo. Today the species has all but disappeared from False Bay. A white musselcracker can take more than five years to reach sexual maturity, which makes the species highly susceptible to overfishing.
Paul Joubert
I used to buy a lot of roman, but I have to follow market trends. My restaurants are all at the high end so they’re sort of trail blazers. They don’t want that fish, so I can’t sell it and I don’t buy it.
Colin Attwood
For fish populations to recover properly you need a moratorium on fishing. Reef fishes recover so slowly that you only need to take a couple of fish off the reef every year and you will stop the recovery.
A baited underwater video system enables scientists to gather accurate information about the diversity, abundance and distribution of the reef fishes in False Bay. By using stereo cameras they can estimate the size and age of the fish drawn to the bait.
Lauren de Vos
I’d like to think that False Bay is not beyond repair. It needs a reassessment of how its current MPA network is working, and a deeper look into the level of enforcement is called for.

SOSF Marine Conservation Photography Grant