Dead carp in Zeekoevlei

The City Cape Town had to remove tons of dead fish in sections of Zeekoevlei last week.

Grim images of the dead fish floating in the water started circulating on social media and John Bailey, chairperson of Pelican Park Owners’ Association (PPOA), reported to Southern Mail about the dead fish on Friday March 4, when he drove past at 6.30am.

Ward 67 councillor Shaun August confirmed that the carp died of koi herpes virus.

Councillor Johan van der Merwe, the Mayco member for energy, en- vironmental and spatial plan- ning responded: “City staff and contracted workers have been working tirelessly to remove the dead fish in a section of Zeekoevlei. Thus far, an estimated 15 tons, or 7 000 individual fish, have been removed in total.”

Mr van der Merwe said it is in all, estimated that 20 tons of carp have died. He said that the dead fish were expected to be removed by the end of yesterday, Tuesday March 8, provided that there were no further deaths.

“We will continue to monitor the site on an ongoing basis.

“Currently, the state veterinarian is processing samples of the dead fish bodies. The laboratory analysis of the samples is being awaited. Although the official cause of death has not yet been confirmed, the symptoms of the carp are consistent with the previous koi herpes virus outbreaks that have happened in some of Cape Town’s vleis. The koi herpes virus is known to be present in carp populations in Cape Town. The disease is often dormant and is triggered by certain environmental condi- tions which result in the carp die-offs which have been witnessed in previous years,” said Mr van der Merwe.

Fish kills, which refer to a localised die-off of fish populations, often occur at this time of the year with the change of seasons when water levels are low and temp- eratures are high. Fish sometimes become stressed during breeding and they may pass on the in- fectious disease due to the grouping of large numbers of adult fish together.

Mr van der Merwe said: “Members of the public are urged not to touch or eat any dead fish from the vlei. It is also advised that residents not let their dogs come into contact with the dead fish.

“In addition, the public are reminded that, as has always been the case pertaining to urban vleis which are often affected by pollutants, at all times only non-contact or partial contact forms of recreation, which include sailing and rowing among others, are advised in Zee- koevlei and Zandvlei.

“Members of the public should also be observant and should never practice recreational activities in water that looks or smells obviously polluted.

“I thank all of our officials and our Expanded Public Works Programme workers for their hard work since Friday. It is a very unpleasant job to remove the dead fish and they have performed commendably under trying circumstances,” said Mr van der Merwe.

The dead fish are being transported to its Vissershok landfill site, the City said.