Fish­ing right holds hope for com­mu­nity

● Wider ac­cess could help up­lift north­ern ar­eas, ap­pli­cant or­gan­i­sa­tion says

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - News - Guy Rogers [email protected]­soblack­

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

Pho­to­graph: EU­GENE COET­ZEE

RARING TO GO: Small-scale fish­er­men El­roy Meyer, front, and back from left, Deon Spandiel, Aubrey Fishie Si­mon, Cathe­rina Joseph and Hil­ton Prinsloo

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