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Stage set for Sardine Run

The feeling is that there's a good chance the shoals will be arriving in the next few weeks.

The scene is set on the South Coast for the ‘Greatest Shoal on Earth’. The temperatures are dropping and the aloes are in full bloom, which means one thing – the annual Sardine Run is on its way.

Anglers, seine netters, divers and spectators are already heading to the Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom in preparation for one of the planet’s biggest biomass migrations.

“Not only does the KZN South Coast enjoy some of the country’s best winter weather, we’re also fortunate enough to offer front-row seats to this incredible spectacle,” said Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of South Coast Tourism & Investment Enterprise (SCTIE).

The silver fish netted during a previous Sardine Run. PHOTO SCTIE

“The past few years we’ve experienced some of the best Sardine Runs, with a lot of shoal activity close to shore. We’re optimistic that the 2023 Sardine Run will be just as spectacular for all our visitors and anglers.”
The run is a calendar highlight for local fishermen who haul in big catches to sell directly to the public, to fisheries, and restaurants.

Demetre Stamatis, one local seine netter, said they’d already noted a lot of fish activity, with pilot shoals passing Mazeppa Bay (Eastern Cape) and Hagga Hagga (Wild Coast).
The feeling is that there’s a good chance the shoals will be arriving in the next few weeks.

Commenting on the importance of this migration for local anglers, Stamatis said: “On a commercial side, there are a number of netting licence holders that rely on the Sardine Run to supplement their income, and a number of the buyers who need the supplementary income generated by the catch because, this time of year, they can’t rely on fresh vegetables and fish. There are also those who process the sardines for sale later in the year which can be a cheap and viable resource.”

Stamatis said it’s difficult to determine a good number of nets per season because the more sardines that are caught, the lower the price they can be sold for.

“The Sardine Run can go on for up to six weeks, and daily netting can be up to 15 nets a day – but this is the exception rather than a rule. There will be a lot of days that only one or two nets are taken.”

Bird activity is quite something during the Sardine Run, as shown here during a previous season. PHOTO SUPPLIED BY SCTIE

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