Plettenberg Bay, South Africa 21 June – 30 June 2024

Rewilding the reef one breath at a time


The impacts of fishing on the reef

The impact of shore based recreational fishing on reef biodiversity and productivity is often overlooked. Over the past six years, volunteer divers from the Strandloper Project conducting regular reef cleanup dives to remove lost and discarded terminal tackle have demonstrated that sections of reef damaged by lost terminal tackle recovers and attracts shoals of bait fish. During regular surveys, they recorded fatalities of 12 species of fish due to ghost fishing, the death of seven avian species due to entanglement and baited hook ingestion, reef cover die off due to lead poisoning, and reef cover scouring during tackle recovery and drifting monofilament.


Mark founded the Strandloper Project, a volunteer citizen science organization, in January 2018 to clean-up snagged recreational fishing tackle from the reef at Gericke’s Point. As a former CCAMLR Scientific observer on long liner fishing vessels in the Ross Sea, Mark realised that the reef clean-ups offered an opportunity to study the impact of ghost fishing, lead poisoning and entanglements caused by recreational fishing. Continued reef surveys inspired the expansion of surveys and associated factors that influence inshore reef biodiversity. In 2019 he initiated a series of coastal research expeditions, hiking in stages between Hermanus and Cape Recife to map the density and distribution of ocean plastic pollution and fishing debris (ALDFG) along the shoreline. A passionate naturalist, Mark has a diverse range of environmental interests and is an active field researcher in Ornithology, marine science and Ichnology (study of fossil footprints). Steadfast in the principle that a better understanding of the environment and wildlife requires diligent observations, he utilises a range of technology to document wildlife behaviour and habitat conditions in all the Strandloper Project marine based research programs. A resident of the Garden Route for 30 years, Mark believes that it is incumbent on the public to both monitor and compile environmental baseline studies to guide future urban and agricultural developments in the region.

This event takes place on:

Sunday 23 June

14:00 - 14:25