Fishing right holds hope for community
● Wider access could help uplift northern areas, applicant organisation says
The pending small-scale fishing rights allocation has the potential to uplift Port Elizabeth’s entire northern areas, the Eastern Cape Khoisan Fishing Association said on Thursday.
Its interim chair, Alroy Meyer, said the key factor was that the allocation would give them offshore access.
“For years we have been struggling in the northern areas. You cannot feed a large family by fishing off the beach with your Marine Living Resources Act permit that says one a day of that, one of that, meanwhile you often sit for days without catching anything anyway.
“This new allocation will give us access to the deep sea and provide us with a sustainable income that can go to the economic betterment of all the people of the northern areas.”
Meyer, 53, said the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries had indicated as far back as 2007 that there was an intention to amend legislation to allow for the inclusion of a new small-scale fishery aimed at benefiting poor coastal communities that lacked access to the sea.
The amendment was passed by parliament and gazetted in 2009, and the department had issued a notice calling for expressions of interest, he said.
“We submitted our expression of interest and later the department came down to interview us.
“We were about 200 people in the Gelvandale Community Centre.”
The historic meeting ended with the department recognising groups from Gelvandale, Arcadia, Bloemendal, Chatty, Kleinskool, Missionvale, Schauderville and Helenvale, as well as the village of Colchester on the northeastern outskirts of Nelson Mandela Bay.
The EC Khoisan Fishing Association, a co-operative uniting all the groups, was then formed.
This allowed for a single permit to be allocated instead of many individual permits, and an interim committee was appointed to steer the new body.
The co-operative was registered with the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission and the next step was to identify the fish species they wanted to target and to apply for the right to do so, Meyer said. “The basket we must choose from includes things like squid, hake and long-line species generally.
“At this stage we are discussing our options among ourselves and at the same time looking to partner with an- other party that has vessels available.”
The co-operative is busy negotiating with one possible partner that has three boats but the deal has not been finalised and the other party cannot be named at this stage, he said.
Small-scale fishing right holders will also be able to apply for financial support for vessels or a processing plant through a fisheries department and department of trade and industry joint fund.
“The question is whether to go for this or to look to the private sector and a partner that is already established in the fishing industry.”
The co-operative was aiming to submit its species target choice and right application in January or February 2019, Meyer said. Thereafter it would be a matter of waiting for a catch quota and final certificate of approval from the fisheries department.
Meyer’s vice-chair, Deon Spandiel, 51, said as soon as they received the certificate and had finalised their vessel partnership, it would be action stations.
“It’s awesome, a big oppor- tunity. We’re very excited.”
He said he was convinced the initiative was environmentally sustainable.
“People have been catching fish since the time of Jesus.
“There will still be the same closed and open seasons for different species that we will have to abide by.
“We will have to protect the ocean and we will be the eyes of the department, on the lookout for any poacher activity.”
The historic meeting ended with the department recognising groups from Gelvandale, Arcadia, Bloemendal, Chatty, Kleinskool, Missionvale, Schauderville and Helenvale, and Colchester
RARING TO GO: Small-scale fishermen Elroy Meyer, front, and back from left, Deon Spandiel, Aubrey Fishie Simon, Catherina Joseph and Hilton Prinsloo