Bid to calm lobster fishers
Cut in catch fears ‘premature’
VIOLENT protests over the total allowable catch (TAC) for the West Coast rock lobster (WCRL) have been slammed as “premature, misplaced and misleading” as a decision had not been taken yet on the matter.
This after disgruntled smallscale fisheries in the Western Cape went on the rampage this week and torched property to “demonstrate their anger” over a recommendation that the TAC from the previous fishing season should be reduced.
The details of the recommendation were not clear as Siphokazi Ndudane, deputy director-general of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff), who is mandated to speak on the matter, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
The small-scale fisheries argue that the attempts to reduce the TAC would threaten their livelihoods as they depended solely on fishing for survival.
They also accused the Daff of kowtowing to big fishing companies in the allocation of fishing quotas instead of prioritising them.
The Daff, however, hit back at the small-scale fisheries, saying that their actions were misleading as no decision had been taken yet on the TAC for the WCRL, also known as crayfish, for the 2017/18 fishing season.
“A consultation is under way, which is based on a recommendation to reduce the TAC from the previous fishing season.
This process is the normal one that is followed to determine the annual TAC and must be stressed that the recommendation does not constitute a decision,” said Daff spokesperson Carol Moses.
The protest action on a reduced TAC “is misplaced and misleading as the decision has not yet been finalised”.
She said the fishing season for WCRL started on October 1 for the Northern Cape and November 1 for the other areas and Daff would announce the TAC for the coming season “shortly”.
The Daff said it recognised the “legitimate grievances and demands” by small-scale fishing communities and was attempting to address them.
“However, the department is concerned that the recent protests linked to a rumoured reduction in the TAC is premature.
“The department therefore appeals for calm and urges law and order to be maintained to prevent destruction to lives and property.”
A small-scale fisherman took to social media yesterday and posted on Facebook: “The reasons for the violence in the fishing villages are due to the fact that the fishermen’s livelihood has been taken away.
“The quotas have been allocated and only 406 people were successful of the over 3 890 entrants.”
The fisher claimed that over the years the size of quotas had been decreasing, while permit, gate and catching fees, among other levies, had been shooting through the roof.
President Jacob Zuma’s administration has said it would, through Operation Phakisa, launch ocean economy projects expected to contribute more than R20 billion to the GDP by 2019.
Operation Phakisa was focused on economic growth and job creation in line with the objectives of the National Development Plan, a blueprint to address the country’s socio-economic challenges by 2030.
The West Coast Rock Lobster Association had not responded to e-mailed questions at the time of going to print.
Fishermen offload their rock lobster catch at Kalk Bay harbour. They are up in arms over a proposed cut in total allowable catch.