SAIAB News » Celebrating World Fish Migration Day

Celebrating World Fish Migration Day

Connecting fish, rivers and people

Addo Elephant National Park – SANParks

Tuesday, 10 April 2018                                                                                                              

 By: Lucky Dlamini - DST/NRF-SAIAB Communications Intern


 Fig.1: The SAIAB and SANPark’s team setting out a seine net for data collection.


On the 21st April, over 60 countries, across the world will celebrate World Fish Migration Day. For the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) freshwater team, celebration started early with Professor Olaf Weyl giving a presentation on ‘The secret life of slippery, slimy, eels’ and “Conservation of the endangered East Cape Redfin Minnows Pseudobarbus afer” to SANParks Rangers and Management at the Addo Elephant National Park, in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The presentation aimed at creating awareness on the interplay between facilitating migrations while ensuring that resident conservation priority species are not negatively impacted.

Of the four species of freshwater eels that occur in South Africa, primary focus was given to the two African species the African Longfin Eel Anguilla mossambica and the Giant Mottled Eel Anguilla marmorata which rely on the unhindered passages through the rivers to reproduce. However, as a result of river barriers (dams, weirs, and sluices) in streams that flow through the AENP, their access to headwaters has been compromised. These barriers however also prevent alien predatory fishes from accessing vulnerable headwater populations of threatened fishes.

Conservation actions therefore need to carefully weigh up the benefits of connectivity to eels against the potential impacts on the endangered Eastern Cape Redfin Minnow. Some of the existing threats to the endangered Redfin Minnow that occurs in Addo Parks Rivers include: alien invasive fish; habitat destruction; pollution and the infamous barriers to migration.

After the presentation, Professor Weyl and the SANPark’s team led a field trip up the Wit River to look at some migration barriers and meet some fishes. A large-mouthed bass was caught as well as other native fishes including the Redfin Minnow.

Despite the gloomy weather, the day was fruitfully wrapped up with informative conversations about conservation and ecology around a skottel braai – a fulfilling approach to fish conservation knowledge.


Fig.2: Lucky Dlamini and Roxanne Eurosan looking at some juvenile
Eastern Cape Redfin Minnow in the upper Wit River.