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Research

The ORCA Foundation    Visit the Orca Foundation website

Most people living in our Coastal Area depend traditionally on two major sources of income, the fishing industry in all its forms and more recently, the Tourism industry. Thus it is vital from a social and economic point of view, as well as from sound conservation principals, that our marine and coastal environment be realistically and holistically conserved. Key Area is – Practical solutions to protect the bay of Plett, Based on scientific research of our reefs & collaboration with Rhodes University the management program for the Bay now includes indicators of the health of the Bay, a plan to sustain & regenerate the dwindling fish reserves, & the promotion of ecotourism as an alternative source of income for the town.

Aims

The main objective of ORCA is to design a unique, practical and usable model for the sustainable uitilization of our marine, coastal & estuarine environment by combining:

  • Conservation
  • Community development
  • Business
  • Science
  • Tourism

Research and Development

O.R.C.A. foundation through proactive research focusing on the practical application of results and the gathering of currently available information and base line data will build the foundation’s of
the proposed model. Via:

  • Analytical studies
  • Community development needs.
  • Environmental needs
  • Business requirements
  • Tourism requirements
  • Data collection
  • Analysis of existing data
  • Research projects
  • Evaluation
  • Overall analysis
  • Research prioritising

The three main areas of attention are:

  1. Volunteer program – The 2005-year has seen an increase of 80% in the number of foreign students spending time with us, experiencing the workings of a successful conservation programme. Together with their enthusiasm they also contribute much needed funding, necessary for running the Orca Foundation.
  2. Practical solutions to protect the bay of Plett – Based on scientific research of our reefs & collaboration with Rhodes University the management program for the Bay now includes indicators of the health of the Bay, a plan to sustain & regenerate the dwindling fish reserves, & the promotion of ecotourism as an alternative source of income for the town.
  3. Education & awareness – Weekly free excursions on the Orca patrol boat continue to enthrall & educate children from all the disadvantaged areas of Plett. These are our leaders of tomorrow & the exposure to our marine life has helped promote beach clean-ups, greater awareness of pollution & of course a love for where we live.

Research Updates

Aspects of the ecology of selected offshore linefish species in the South Eastern Cape

Stocks of most linefish species in South Africa have collapsed due to over fishing. Recent work in Plett has shown that the status of reef ecosystems in the Bay is poor, and that areas of limited resource use are necessary to allow for the recovery of these fish stocks. Increased numbers of fish in these areas will not only revive the reefs but also promote ecotourism by attracting more divers to the region. Currently ecological indicators (species diversity, species relative abundance and length-frequency distributions) of fishery important reef fishes are being measured by means of SCUBA-based underwater census and research angling, to monitor the health of marine ecosystems in the Bay. This provides information on the state of the reef ecosystems within the Bay, which will be compared with results obtained from Tsitsikamma Reserve. The project also aims to determine whether Red Roman is able to return to its home range after relocation to a nearby isolated reef, to assess the feasibility of artificial enhancement of numbers in limited use areas.

– Rhett Bennett

Assessment of the feasibility of stock enhancement of dusky kob Argyrosomus japonicus

Spawner biomass of dusky kob (Kabeljou) is between 1 and 4.5% of pristine, the fishery has collapsed and the fish is listed as vulnerable in South Africa. Current management measures do not allow for recovery of the species, and as stocks are still declining, alternative measures must be investigated. Stock enhancement is a management tool used in several countries. Stock enhancement involves the spawning and rearing of larval fish to their juvenile stage after which they are released into the wild to augment depleted natural populations. The project will:

  • Assess the economic and environmental feasibility of stock enhancement
  • Develop a post release monitoring protocol
  • Make recommendations for the use of stock enhancement as a management tool in South Africa

The study is the first of its kind in South Africa and will hopefully lead the way to recovering our depleted fish stocks.

– Ryan Palmer

Educational Programme

Information Boards

One of the major causes of the decline in fish stocks in South Africa is a lack of compliance by the resource users, often a result of a lack of knowledge regarding fishing regulations. Information boards displaying national fishing regulations, including minimum legal sizes and daily bag limits for local linefish species, as well as colour pictures of these species for easy identification have been strategically placed at access points to fishing spots within Plett, including Robberg car park, Robberg Five, Central Beach, Poortjies, CapeNature slipway on Keurbooms River, Keurbooms Village Nature’s Valley and Beacon Island. Information displayed on these boards is intended for the benefit of all recreational, subsistence and sport fishermen, to help increase awareness of the need to conserve natural resources and increase compliance with fishing regulations.

In a joint effort between WWF and Orca these colourful information boards can be seen in 8 key locations.