Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Senzeni Zokwana says the Northern Cape is the first province that has been earmarked for the allocation of small-scale fishing rights.
The Minister said this when he briefed the media at the Imbizo Centre in Parliament, Cape Town, on Thursday.
This comes after Zokwana approved the final list of small-scale fishers for the Northern Cape in October 2017, the Eastern Cape in December 2017 and KwaZulu-Natal in December 2017 - with the exception of the Western Cape communities.
The finalisation of the list in the Western Cape was delayed after the department had to follow-up on a community tip-off to verify certain information prior to announcing the final list of fishers.
“The process going forward is to announce the final list of successful fishers before mobilising the fishers into co-operatives.
“The next step is to complete the small-scale fishing rights allocation process for all co-operatives and to facilitate support programmes after the rights have been allocated.
“Northern Cape is the first province earmarked for the allocation of small-scale fishing rights, which is likely to be September 2018. The other provinces will follow in due course in 2018/ 19,” he said.
The Minister said this as the department forges ahead with the implementation of the Small Scale Fisheries Policy, which is aimed at providing redress and recognition of the customary rights of traditional fishers and to promote the socio-economic development of the fishers and the communities in which they reside.
Zokwana said the department has to conducted an extensive registration and verification process for small-scale fishers in 2016 covering 216 communities and registering over 22 000 applications.
Minister appoints appeals panel
The Minister said, meanwhile, that applicants for fisheries rights were verified against a set of criteria and the provisional list of successful fishers were announced in communities in the 2016/17 financial year. He said this provided unsuccessful applicants an opportunity to appeal.
The appeals process has since been closed and the department has assessed all the appeals and made recommendations to the Minister on the final list of successful small-scale fishers.
“With regards to the Western Cape, I have recently appointed the Appeals Advisory Team on the Fisheries Rights Allocation Process and the Appeals Advisory Team will advise me for all the West Coast Rock Lobster fishery appeals, the work that will be finalised by no later than the 31st of August.”
Department takes aim at abalone poachers
The Minister said he was concerned in the manner that abalone poaching was in the rise in the country, with sophisticated foreign syndicates at play.
He said more concerning was the fact that despite efforts of the marine Fisheries Control Guards, syndicates may have succeeded to infiltrate some of the department’s officials.
Zokwana said he has appointed a forensic auditor to conduct lifestyle audits on departmental officials to ensure that they are not fattening their pockets from abalone poaching.
“I have been disturbed that despite our Marine Fisheries Control Guards efforts, which has ensured that we confiscate the stolen abalones that these syndicates have succeeded to infiltrate some of our officials who are colluding to smuggle abalone.
“Recently, our own officials have been arrested for these acts of stealing abalone working with these syndicates,” he said.
He said the department was dealing with the syndicates with deep pockets who bribe their way through.
In one case, on 16 July 2018, 12 suspected poachers were arrested and a boat was confiscated with 1 544 units of abalone in the Robben Island area. In other incidents, seven suspected poachers were arrested on 8 July 2018 in Bloubaai, Gansbaai area for the illegal possession of abalone, and a Colt bakkie and a boat were confiscated.
On the same day, in Port Elizabeth, a person was arrested and a boat and various types of fish were confiscated. – SAnews.gov.za