ASFN Team angler Wesley Peens was caught unawares during a recent fishing trip to Southern Mozambique, which nearly saw him end up in hot water. Ill-communicated new regulations can hamper a fishing holiday, so ensure you’re covered with all the necessary paperwork. Wesley explains…
With the silly season upon us, many of us are excited, overworked, and ready for a holiday. Several anglers will be making their way to the southern parts of Mozambique to get some well-deserved “beach time”, and for those lucky ones, hopefully get those rods bending and hook a fish or two.
Southern Mozambique has seen many changes over the past few years. With property development on the rise, many of the isolated areas are becoming more accessible to all anglers. With growing developments come increased fishing pressure, more people, more boats, more fishing rods and more vehicles.
Along with fellow deep-sea angling enthusiast Rudolph Scheepers, we embarked on an ASFN (Advanced Sport Fishing Network) trip to the amazing Ponto Techobanine, just north of Ponto Mamoli. I’ve travelled to this area previously and I was sure I had logistically planned the trip to the best of my ability. However, I was caught with my pants around my ankles this time around.
We planned to launch at the Ponto Techno bay, which is usually a calm, protected area with hard sand and a beach that has room to move. On this trip, I was towing Sixpence — a Yamaha Sea Cat 636 with two 115 HP Yamaha 4-Stroke motors — and loads of fuel. Luckily enough, we had some assistance from US Trucks’ V8, 6.8-litre Dodge 4×4 to help us along the way.
So that was us, at the border, ready to rock and roll. Passports checked, vehicle checked and boat prepped. Border officials weren’t too interested in our paperwork, but more blown away by the boat and the imported Dodge, and posed for many photos before opening the gate, so we safely assumed that we were legally allowed to set off to our destination.
I have launched many times between Ponto Do Auro and Santa Maria and I was under the impression that we had covered all the logistics with regards to fishing and boat launching. Well, we were sadly mistaken. The entire area from Ponto Do Auro all the way to Santa Maria is now part of a new marine protected area (MPA) and policed under the same rule as Ponto Do Auro, where a launching permit is required to surf launch your boat.
We continued to the beach to launch the boat and as I popped my head around the corner and prepared to be overwhelmed by this beautiful flat long sandy bay, I was greeted by a beach that had water breaking all the way to the dunes and was cut away terribly.
I looked at the boat, looked at the beach, looked at the boat again, looked at the beach again, fell to my knees and nearly started sobbing! Maybe not quite as bad, but you can understand my emotional outburst.
Anyway, after we managed to get our fishing licences, we decided to launch the boat. It was not an easy task but with a great team and some help from locals, we had Sixpence in the water and doing what she was meant to do! The team headed out for some fishing and with great success — it’s an area that produces fish in good numbers at the right time of year.
After a great day on the water, we hit the beach, we packed the boat and headed back to the Tataruga luxury tented camp resort at Ponta Malongane. Early next morning, I heard a knock on the door, “knock, knock – excuse me Sir, do you mind coming outside please”. I was rather surprised at this early request BUT not as surprised at the AK47’s that were pointed in my direction when I walked out of the door.
In front of me were seven gentlemen, six Mozambique officers and one South African who was responsible for running the newly-demarcated MPA. With some aggressive attitudes, I thought I was going to end up in the tjoekie for sure!
Luckily, I managed to explain my situation and the reason for my neglect. I told them I was aware of the launching permits needed for many different parts of Mozambique, but before, it was only needed in specific areas. On this trip, I was launching out of these specific areas and I was under the impression that a launching permit wasn’t necessary. We all agreed that this was the old rule, and it has changed since.
During this very serious and heated discussion, I expressed my disgust and anger towards the system that was in place for the new rules and regulations. At no point was any documentation, signage or information presented to “holidaymakers” to ensure that they are more informed.
After chatting in depth about this new operation, I was now clear on the regulations and I would like to make all of you aware of what the rules and regulations that are in place when it comes to deep-sea fishing in Southern Mozambique:
Firstly, if you are going to launch a boat from any beach OR bring your boat into port ANYWHERE between Ponto Do Auro and Santa Maria, YOU are expected by law to have a Launching Permit — obtainable ONLY at the Maritime Office at Ponto Do Auro. This permit will cost you about R350 and will grant you access to all beaches where launching is possible. To qualify for the permit, you will need to produce the following:
Seaworthy Certificate — for the boat used
Secondly, this has been law for some time, but for those who don’t know, every angler on the boat needs to be in possession of a valid fishing licence which can also be purchased from the Maritime Office at Ponto Do Auro. This licence will set you back approx R100 and you will just need your Passport to be legal for a fishing licence that will allow you to fish off the boat and the beach in Southern Mozambique.
Thirdly, before you plan to get the rods out and do some fishing in any area between Ponto Do Auro and Santa Maria, you need to check with this same Maritime Office based at Ponto. You will then be advised as to what species you can fish for and how you can fish in the various areas. This is critical when planning your fishing trip.
Not having a valid launching permit and if your crew has no licences, your fines could set you back R25 000.
I am extremely excited that these new rules are in place and they are being managed at the highest possible level, although I am horrified as to how they are informing the public and making sure that everybody that goes through that border is aware of these regulations that are in place.
PLEASE take the time to go to the Maritime office at Ponto Do Auro and get legal. It is a brilliant fishing destination with many facets available to those traveling anglers, but from a legal perspective, it’s essential to be educated about what is expected from anglers.