Hunting, self-drive visits to private or public game reserves and national parks, as well as recreational fishing are among the activities the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has included in the directions under the COVID-19 lockdown level 3.

The directions that guide the marine and freshwater fisheries, forestry and biodiversity sectors, which are permitted under level 3 of the lockdown, are published in terms of the disaster management regulations (government notice R.480 published in the Government Gazette number 43258 of 29 April 2020 as amended).

“All fishing, including recreational fishing, is permitted with the exception of charter fishing,” said minister Barbara Creecy.

Valid permits required

Fishers must ensure that they have a valid permit. All regulations relating to social distancing, health protocols, movement and the prohibition of groups and gatherings apply.

Wildlife auctions can take place online. Live auctions comprising no more than 50 people may be held where online auctions are not possible.

Subsistence hunting for food with the necessary permits is permitted.

Self-drive excursions in public and private game reserves are also permitted. SANParks will publish a list of access-controlled parks that will be opened to visitors in the coming days. Visitors to national parks are advised to book and pay online before going on a game drive.

Deep cleaning of public facilities

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is busy getting the park ready for visitors. Besides staff returning to work, deep cleaning of the offices and public facilities have started. Additional work will be done by rangers and conservationists, including cutting back of trees and removing logs from roads.

Once compliance requirements are met and the park has been declared safe for visitors, the public will be given seven days’ notice of its reopening for self-drive excursions.

“While we understand that many nature lovers are keen to get back to our national parks and game reserves, it would be prudent to wait until the relevant authorities are comfortable with their state of preparedness to welcome visitors,” said Creecy.

“All the usual protocols with regard to social distancing, hand sanitising and wearing of masks will apply at all times,” she added.

Imports, exports and permits

The import and export of live or dead plant or animal specimens or products will be allowed subject to directions issued by the minister of Trade, Industry and Competition.

The directions also deal with the processing of applications for environmental authorisations required in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act 107 of 1998, or NEMA), as well as the handling of applications for waste management licences, permits linked to the export of waste tyres, and applications for atmospheric emission licences in terms of the Air Quality Act, 2004 (Act 39 of 2004). Appeals lodged in terms of NEMA will be dealt with. 

In terms of activities that can still not be resumed under level 3, further leeway has been granted on the timeframes for permits that had already been extended at the end of March. The extension is now granted until further notice. However, where pending permitting processes now resume, the relevant prescribed timeframes that applied on 27 March has been extended by an additional 21 days.

Handling of applications and appeals

Authorisations for the export of waste tyres which expired between 27 March and the date of publication of these directions remain valid subject to new applications being submitted within 60 days from the date of publication of these directions.

The applications and appeals mentioned will be processed by the responsible authorities from the date of publication of the directions. Further details on how to access the service, and submit applications and appeals, will be provided in the Annexures to the level 3 directions.

On waste management, 100% of the recycling sector is allowed to operate.

More details on the directions are contained in the Government Gazette that will be published this week and we recommend that members of the public await publication of these directions. – Press release, Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries