Fishing community leaders push for sector probe

Monday, September 18, 2017

Pretoria – An investigation into small fishing communities losing their rights to big companies will be instituted as a matter of high priority. 

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana and fishing community leaders from various regions in the Western Cape, including Hangberg, on Sunday agreed that an investigation of this nature must get underway urgently. 

Minister Zokwana met fishing community leaders on Sunday in response to a memorandum handed over on 11 September to the Fisheries Branch at Foretrust Building, Cape Town. 

One of the demands in the memorandum was the fishing community leaders’ request to meet Minister Zokwana within seven days of handing over the memorandum. 

The leaders on Sunday raised a number of concerns, including the slow progress in transformation in the fisheries sector and communication between the department and the affected communities. The leaders also wanted an update on the “fish basket” allocated for small-scale fishermen; and the demarcation in the near shore, offshore and small-scale fisheries. 

After robust talks, the meeting agreed on peaceful and constructive dialogue, and also agreed to establish working committees to address all issues raised on behalf of fishing communities. 

The meeting further clarified issues that needed urgent attention, and issues that needed regular interaction between the department and the fishing community leaders. 

“It was recognised by all affected that there are immediate concerns that need urgent attention… Fishing community leaders [will] meet with the Deputy Director General of the Fisheries Branch, Siphokazi Ndudane, on [Monday] at 2pm,” the department said. 

The issues to be discussed at the meeting are the recommendation to cut the total allowable catch (TAC)/total allowable effort (TAE) of the West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL); addressing the allocation of fish for small-scale fisheries in the interim prior to the 2010 Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) and the proposal to suspend allocations on WCRL and abalone for the current FRAP period. 

The meeting on Sunday identified a number of areas that need to be worked on including communication, alternative livelihoods for fishermen, transformation and training and development. 

Meanwhile, Minister Zokwana has committed to publish a notification calling for nominations for the establishment of the Fisheries Transformation Council (FTC) by the end of September. 

The FTC will look comprehensively at transformation issues to ensure meaningful participation by all. – 

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