Fish trap thesis nets medal

21 February 2007 | Story by Chwayita Nqiwa

The Department of Zoology's Lucy Kemp has been awarded the prestigious South African Association for the Advancement of Science's S2A3 Bronze Medal for her thesis on ancient fish traps.

The medal comes with a monetary prize of R15 000.

Kemp's thesis investigated the ancient fish traps (called visvywers) between Mossel Bay and Hermanus. The shallow inter tidal waters were ideal for making stone fish traps and remnants of the ancient fishing cultures of some of the many visvywers remain.

Fish traps are stone wall structures that the Khoe-San created hundreds of years ago to catch fish at spring low tide, during the dark moon phase, mostly in the winter months. An aerial survey was conducted from Mossel Bay to Hermanus, and Kemp used aerial imagery to map and geo-reference them so that the South African Heritage Resource Agency could have a complete database of the fish traps.

"We looked at the ecology of the fish traps and the surrounding rocky shore to see what differences the fish traps had on the ecosystem and used this to make inferences about the impact that current development will have on rocky shore communities," Kemp said.

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