30 June 2005

Durban gripped by Sardine fever - Sardine Run in full swing

The phenomenal sardine run is awaited by fishermen, commuters and tourists every year and it's been dubbed the Greatest Shoal on Earth.

Each year, millions of sardines leave the southern Cape coast and journey 1 000km along the Wild Coast to KwaZulu-Natal waters, according to the Scottburgh tourism website.

As the shoal makes its way up the coastline, sharks, dolphins, seals, gannets and humans alike gather for this short-lived feeding frenzy. According to the website, the phenomenon is natural and has been happening forever.

Each year the shoal gets bigger and better and when the first fish are netted, crates of the silvery fish can fetch up to R220. But at the height of the sardine season, a dozen fish can sell for as little as R2.

Once the fish are sighted, life as many know it becomes a frenzy. Fishermen head out to sea hoping to net hundreds of the long awaited silvery fish, while the old and young flock to the beaches to witness and take part in the action.

Local businessman Sagie Naidoo has been netting sardines for more than 10 years and says that this year the sardine run will last longer.

As a seafood distributor, Naidoo nets sardines on a daily basis during the sardine run and sells the fish to commuters, some of whom re-sell them.

"It's an event that almost everyone awaits and, if you have the opportunity, why not partake in the fun? When all the fish aren't sold, some fisherman use them as bait," he said.

He said the sardine run is more of a cat-and-mouse game. You have to be at the right place at the right time to catch them.

"Fortunately this year is proving to be a good run thus far, and that's an indication of a long run ahead."

The sardine run also provides a boom for businesses and the hotel industry on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. Tourists, according to the website, visit the coast each year hoping to catch a glimpse of the fish.

Source: www.iol.co.za


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