The wild coast, whilst still an area of abundant sea life, is taking strain with the huge numbers of people who are forced to strip mussels and oysters from rocks, and comb the shallow waters for crayfish. Permit systems are ineffective, as people cannot support their families with the small allowable catch.
A regulated crayfish industry could support the harvesters by ensuring the catch is sold at a fair price, and ensure permits are followed. However, as it stands, crayfishermen are forced to compete to sell their catch to tourists, often at prices too low to feed a family. It also means that sea life is being removed from coastal waters at an alarming rate.
Trust Sustainability Films, whose first and foremost goal is the protection of the coastline, recognizes that the answer to sea conservation in this area is to fulfil the needs of the community. As such, much time was spent with local harvesters, and many friendships formed, and it became clear that the rampant disregard for responsible harvesting is borne out of necessity, not choice. More funding needs to go into projects that address educational and employment issues, such as the Sustainable Seas Trust's Seas Centres.
Two films about crayfish, mussels, and oyster, shot on the wild coast in the Transkei, have recently been completed to shed light on these coastal issues. Special thanks to The Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust who funded the projects. The mussel film drew upon a mussel film produced by Heather Cooke and Graham Holmes, while adding information about a similar bivalve, oysters.
The crayfish film was also a big success, as it delves into the challenging life-styles of crayfish divers, whose sole income comes from the few crayfish they are able to sell to tourists in backpackers and cottages. It acts as both an educational tool on crayfish, their anatomy and life cycles, as well as a social documentary on many people in rural coastal communities, who muste often far exceed government permit limits to survive.
The films produced are just the beginning of a partnership between Sustainable Seas Trust and the people living in the Transkei coast.