Fish sit­u­a­tion ‘crit­i­cal’ as li­cences are cut back, stocks fall

Weekend Witness - - News - STEPHEN COAN

DI­MIN­ISH­ING fish stocks plus a cut­back in line fish­ing li­cences, are leav­ing fish­er­men in large parts of KwaZulu­Natal un­der real threat of los­ing their only liveli­hood.

And while they are locked in a bat­tle of sur­vival, the seafood out­lets in Dur­ban and Pi­eter­mar­itzburg they sup­ply, are bat­tling with suf­fi­cient stock and even the threat of clos­ing down.

Bobby Tularam, owner of Gle­nash­ley Fish­eries in Dur­ban North, who has been in the fresh fish busi­ness for 35 years, says there has been “a down­ward trend” in the avail­abil­ity of fresh fish “for many years”.

As chair­per­son of the Dur­ban Com­mer­cial Fish­ing Club, Tularam also knows the other side of the busi­ness and has wit­nessed how, be­cause of low fish stocks, fish­er­men “have to fish harder and travel longer dis­tances to find fish. And there is the ris­ing cost of fuel”.

Tularam said he had to in­crease prices in his shop due to the lack of fish and had also ex­tended his busi­ness by open­ing a kitchen so he could sell fish­and­chips and cur­ries. “Fish is so scarce you can’t de­pend on just fish to run a busi­ness.”

Next week Tularam will visit Cape Town look­ing for al­ter­na­tive sources for fresh fish.

Tularam said the re­cent re­duc­tion in line fish­ing li­cences had had an ad­di­tional neg­a­tive im­pact on the fresh fish busi­ness. He was crit­i­cal of the with­drawal of li­cences from ex­pe­ri­enced fish­er­men and their is­su­ing to those with­out ex­pe­ri­ence. “It’s a tough busi­ness,” he said. “You have to know what you are do­ing and if you haven’t done it be­fore to en­ter the in­dus­try now, you are wast­ing your time.”

There are “def­i­nitely less fish” says Fa­rook Sher­iff, owner of Moun­tain Rise Seafood in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, who has been in busi­ness for 35 years. “We have re­ally been feel­ing the crunch for the last four or five years.”

Sher­iff has had to put up prices and find other ways of sourc­ing fresh fish. “It’s a mis­sion,” he said. “It’s get­ting worse, the fish sit­u­a­tion is crit­i­cal.” • Stephen.Coan@wit­ness.co.za

PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT

Tra­di­tional sup­pli­ers of fresh fish in large parts of KwaZu­luNatal in­creas­ingly find their liveli­hoods un­der threat with the loss of their fish­ing li­cences.

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