Minister Edna Molewa gazettes the Biodiversity Management Plan for the Clanwilliam Sandfish

05 April 2016


The Minister of Environmental Affairs on Thursday, 1 April 2016, published the Biodiversity Management Plan for the Clanwilliam Sandfish (Labeo Seeberi) in Government Gazette No. 39899 (Notice 406 of 2016) for implementation.

The gazetting of the Biodiversity Management Plan is in line with the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004).

The Clanwilliam sandfish is listed by the IUCN Red Data List and by the South Africa’s Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) as Endangered.

This recognises that species facing an extremely high risk of extinction are therefore subject to the restrictions imposed by national legislation regarding their removal from the wild, transport, trade and use.

Conservation initiatives aimed at protecting populations of the two larger cyprinids (fish species) in the catchment, namely the Clanwilliam yellowfish and sawfin are being implemented. However, these initiatives are not aimed at securing populations of Clanwilliam sandfish, despite the fact that it ranks as one of the most threatened species in the Western Cape and has been identified as a high conservation priority by the Northern and Western Cape Conservation Authorities.

Adult populations of this species are restricted to the northern reaches of the Doring River and successfully recruiting populations are known to occur only in confined reaches of the Oorlogskloof-Koebee River system in the Northern and Western Cape.

Responsibility for the conservation and management of the sandfish is shared by the conservation authorities in the Western and Northern Cape, including the province’s municipalities, private landowners impacting on the aquatic habitat of the species.

Private landowners, through conservancies and stewardship programs are expected to manage land and water resources in a manner consistent with national environmental legislation and to adhere to the restrictions imposed on the movement and introduction of alien invasive species.

Threats to the Clanwilliam sandfish include:

  • alien invasive fish species, most notably smallmouth bass (micropterus dolomieu), largemouth bass (micropterus salmoides) and bluegill sunfish (lepomis macrochirus) which were introduced as sport fish by the then department of inland fisheries during the earlier half of the twentieth century;
  • water quantity and water quality
  • physical habitat degradation caused by, amongst others, overgrazing, trampling and eutrophication by livestock; in-stream barriers caused by invasive species and the degradation of the aquatic habitat;
  • socio-economic issues related to the utilisation and consumption of the species; and
  • past conservation methods that had not been directed specifically towards  conserving the Clanwilliam sandfish in the past. 

The BMP, finalised following public consultation and inputs, aims to secure the long-term survival of the Clanwilliam sandfish in the wild by:

(i) elevating its status as an flagship species of the Doring and Oorlogskloof rivers – some of the last major free-flowing rivers in the country:

(ii) consolidate extant populations by reducing the risks of further invasions by alien fish species, especially in the Oorlogskloof-Koebee Management Unit;

(iii) reducing the risks posed by increasing water demand and unsustainable land management practices in all catchments that fall within its distribution range;

(iv) increase knowledge of its biology and ecology and applying this knowledge to adaptive management strategies.

(v) Identifying priority areas in its original distribution range which can be cleared of alien fishes, allowing for re-introduction of the species.

Follow the link below to download the BMP electronic copy:

>> National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA), 2004 (Act 10 of 2004): Biodiversity management plan-species (BMP-S) for the clanwilliam sandfish (labeo seeberi) [G39899 – GoN 406]

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Roopa Singh
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