Bid to calm lob­ster fish­ers

Cut in catch fears ‘pre­ma­ture’

The Star Late Edition - - NEWS - Luy­olo Mken­tane

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.

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