Friends of Rietvlei
Newsletter January 2007
As the first newsletter for 2007 the Committee would like to wish all members and friends and family of Friends of Rietvlei all the very best for the 2007 Year. We hope that this will be an environmentally aware year for you and that you will make an effort to support the conservation efforts at Rietvlei in every way.
 
ACTIVITIES FOR EARLY 2007
Evening Talk
On Thursday 1 February, which is the day before World Wetlands Day, we are having our first evening talk for 2007. Martin Burr of Kynoch will be the speaker and he will be telling us about happenings at the old Kynoch site (opposite Chevron Refinery which was previously Caltex), on the corner of Koeberg Road and Plattekloof Road. He will be including in his talk information about the redirection of Duikersvlei and the benefit to our wetland, Rietvlei.
Time: 19h30 for 20h00
Venue: Rietvlei Education Centre, off Sandpiper Road, Table View, Rietvlei Wetland Reserve
 
What is World Wetlands Day?
2nd February each year is World Wetlands Day. It marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organisations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular.
The focus for February 2nd 2007 is on wetlands and fisheries in recognition of:
the needs of the one billion people who rely on fish as their primary source of animal protein;
the state of the world's fisheries where 75% of commercially important marine and most inland water fish stocks are either currently overfished or being fished at their biological limit, and where the effects of unsustainable aquaculture practices on wetland ecosystems are of growing concern;
the important role that inland and coastal wetlands play in supporting fish and fisheries at all levels, from large-scale, commercial fisheries to subsistence fishers, and from wild, capture fisheries to farmed fish; the critical role that coastal wetlands play as spawning and nursery areas for many marine species; and the urgent need for effective management of fisheries and the wetland ecosystems that support them;
the adoption in November 2005 by the Ramsar Convention of a resolution and annexed guidelines on the conservation, production and sustainable use of fisheries which commits the 153 Contracting Parties to the Convention to playing their role in establishing and maintaining sustainable fisheries in wetlands. (See www.ramsar.org for further info)
 
Afternoon Walks
Our first walk for 2007 will be held on Sunday 11 February. We will be walking alongside the golf course on the western shore of the lagoon. Meet at the parking area near the Milnerton Canoe Club, next to Woodbridge Island at 14h30. Please wear comfortable shoes for beach and path walking. Bring a small snack and drink for the halfway break.
On Sunday 11 March in the afternoon we are planning a walk which will take in the Diep River and the fynbos corridor. More details will be given nearer the time but diarise this now!!
 
For queries on the above activities please contact Pauline on 557 6920 (H) or 464 4748 (W)
 
Thank you to all members who supported our activities in 2006 and we hope you will continue to support us in 2007. Our last walk, held on 5 November was well supported in spite of a chilly south-easter blowing across the vlei. See the picture gallery for photos.
 
FISH DEATHS – NORTH VLEI, RIETVLEI WETLAND RESERVE
As you are probably all aware from the TV, newspaper and website coverage a Christmas present for the birds of the vlei was a serving of fish. Actually it turned out to be closer to 80 tons of fish.
Following the death of numerous fish in the North and South Vleis of Rietvlei Wetland Reserve from 25 - 28 December 2006 the area has been cleaned of all dead fish and the water quality is once again suitable for recreational use. Dr Ivan Toms, Executive Director: City Health, authorised the re-opening of the recreational area for the use of the public on Wednesday 10 January 2007. Routine water sampling in the North Vlei on 19 December 2006 showed normal results for that waterbody. However, during the hot, windless days leading up to Christmas the water temperature rose by over 8 degrees Celsius and dissolved oxygen levels dropped by over half normal levels. This is assumed to have affected the largely estuarine fish species harders/southern mullet, springer/flatheaded mullet and estuarine round herring, causing an extensive die-off. The deaths of such large quantities of fish led to a massive clean-up operation being undertaken by staff of the City of Cape Town and volunteers from the Milnerton Aquatic Club, Friends of Rietvlei and the general public. This clean-up was undertaken as a matter of urgency to prevent a health nuisance as well as to prevent the water body from being further contaminated by rotting fish. It is estimated that 80 tons of dead fish was taken to the City`s Vissershok landfill site.
Water samples taken on 8 January 2007 indicated results that were normal for the area. Sampling of water is essentially a "snapshot" in time. Since water quality can change very rapidly, users should always be cautious and use common sense if the water looks abnormally green, is odorous or if dead fish/other animals are observed. Unusual fish behavior such as erratic swimming/gasping at the surface could signify the onset of low oxygen conditions which the City should be made aware of. Regular users of the area are valuable as "field eyes" and can help the City with early response to abnormal environmental conditions. Report it to Koos Retief, manager: Rietvlei Wetland Reserve, on tel 021 550 1086.
The City staff are looking at ways to further investigate this problem to find solutions to safeguarding the value of the area for conservation.
Following the email request to our members on 27 December for assistance there was a turnout of members helping pick up fish as well as bringing refreshments for the hard working teams. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO RESPONDED!!
   
STILL ON A FISHY MATTER…..
Did you know that your cellphone can now help you make choices that limit your impact on our oceans? The SA Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) FishMS allows you to easily make the better choice when consuming or buying fish. All you need to do is simply text the name of a fish to 079-499-8795 and you'll immediately get a message telling you whether to tuck in, think twice or avoid completely. TRY IT, IT WORKS!!
Full details of how the classification system works are online at www.wwf.org.za/sassi
  
VOLUNTEERS FOR ASSISTING WITH FIGHTING WILDFIRES AT RIETVLEI
As you are aware this time of year is the season for fires to get out of hand. An unplanned fire in a nature reserve can cause devastation to habitat. The City’s Nature Conservation Branch welcomes the assistance of volunteers when fighting fires in reserves BUT the volunteers need to have some basic training. If you are interested in this matter please contact Pat on info@friendsofrietvlei.co.za or 557 3748 (H).
 
NEW STUDENTS
Over the past few years Rietvlei has been lucky to have had students working at the reserve for their experiential (third) year of the studies for their Nature Conservation Diploma. We welcome Elana Kellerman, Liezl van Schoor and Zanele Nhlapo to Rietvlei. During the year we will meet up with them, as they undertake projects under the supervision of Koos Retief, Reserve Manager.
Thanks go to Chevron Refinery for sponsoring envelopes for the posted newsletter.
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