Tuesday 30 July 2019

CRAYFISH export to France in danger

CAPE TIMES – 1933, 4 August

The imposition of heavy duties by the French Government caused consternation among SA exporters of Crayfish in 1933Dr. C von Bonde, Director of Union Fisheries, who returned to Cape Town from Pretoria, was interviewed by several exporters to initiate some steps to secure Government supervision of the new export industry. Dr. Von Bonde sent copies of the articles on the subject which have appeared in the Cape Times to the Board of Trade in Pretoria. He was unable to give the exporters any assurance on what steps the Government would be likely to take.

Up to that day the Government had not contemplated taking any measures to supervise the export of frozen crayfish tails. Apparently, the Board of Trade had been approached beforehand with this object. 
This present position could be due to a large extend to the activities of smaller exporters who had rushed into the crayfish industry attracted by the possibility of quick money. They were packing anything off to the French market, and there could be no question of maintaining a satisfactory standard under those conditions.
Dr. Von Bonde saw people packing the tails of crayfish into large tubs of ice, and when a tail was dropped in the mud and filth of the quayside, it was thrown into the tub, mud and all. According to him, the industry was being conducted in a most uneconomical and short-sighted manner. The method of severing the tail and dumping the remainder of the crayfish overboard would have a very damaging effect on the fishing grounds. It would probably drive away crayfish and other fish as well.

Dr. Von Bonde said that, under properly organized conditions, the offal part of the crayfish (head & claws) could be used profitably as fowl food and as fertilizer. Older Malay fishermen confirmed that it had always been the rule not to throw dead fish or parts of fish into the fishing grounds. One old man said that one crayfish head could disturb a bed for two years.
There seemed to be some misapprehension over the manner of killing the crayfish. Apparently, people thought that when the tail is separated the rest of the body, still alive and kicking, will flounder in the sea to die a slow death. The crayfish “tail”, however, is almost the entire fish, only a shell of a head being left with the claws and legs attached. It was considered that the method of wrenching the “tail” off as soon as the fish is caught – thereby killing them quickly – was far more humane than leaving them to suffocate en masse in the bottom of a boat. It was the general opinion of crayfish exporters that unless the Government would take some steps, the Union’s youngest industry would pass out with the same rapidity as it was instituted.

Read more about the History of Crayfishing in South Africa at   https://www.route27sa.com/crayfish.html

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