The Big Issue’s early September edition raises some sharp points around ocean conservation ahead of Heritage Day.
“Flanked by two diverse coastlines, much of South Africa’s heritage is linked to the ocean, so we thought we would do something a bit different in the run-up to September 24th and raise awareness of ocean conservation and South Africans’ long history and often conflicting relationship with our seas,” says Melany Bendix, editor of The Big Issue.
The cover features Hanli Prinsloo, SA free-diving champ, in a desert-like setting holding a fish skeleton with the cover line “How will we teach a man to fish when there are no more fish…”. The unusual cover, says Bendix, is intended to convey a strong message about the effect ocean depletion will have on humans, poverty and food security if left unchecked.
The edition also carries an interview with Prinsloo about what drives her to override every instinct and physical reflex to plunge to the ocean’s depths.
Next up, two big mouths put forward some sharp points in the debate on whether shark cage diving and chumming is to blame for the increase in shark attacks, while another Big Issue journalist hopped on board a research ship with the Save our Seas Foundation to come face-to-face with the ocean’s apex predator. While on board, she got to the bottom of why humans have an irrational fear of charachadon charcharias — the great white shark — and debunked some of the hype.
Small-scale fishermen in South Africa got the short end of the rod under the current fishing quota system, which they argue gives fishing rights to a select few and leaves entire fishing families with no food on the table, leading many to resort to poaching. Yet, keeping fishing communities in business while also protecting shrinking inshore fish stocks is a tricky business.
“Our in-depth report on small-scale fishing in South Africa looks at how government’s new fishing quota policy — now in its draft form — is aimed at fixing the system so everyone gets a piece of the pie. But unfortunately, there already seem to be holes in this ‘catch-all net’,” explains Bendix.
The Agent of Change for the ocean conservation special issue is Rosie Kunneke, a Capetonian who quit her job and said goodbye to her home to become a full-time whale warrior with the Sea Shepard Conservation Society.
“The Sea Shepard’s aggressive tactics are controversial, and we know not everyone out there agrees with their campaign methods. However, we strongly felt Rosie deserved the ‘Agent of Change’ title for her extreme dedication and the sheer strength of her convictions, which have led her to risk her life on more than one occasion,” says Bendix.
To preview the new edition, log onto the website www.bigissue.org.za on Friday September 2.