Cape Town - Old Kalk Bay linefish vessels should be declared “moving national monuments” with fishing licences attached to the old wooden boats as a way of protecting fishermen and their historic way of earning a living.
That way the livelihood of a crew, some of whom are third-generation fishermen, will be secured.
This is a proposal made by Joao Simoes, who has been crewing on Kalk Bay linefish boats for 22 years and who, like hundreds of crewmen around the country’s coast, found himself without a job when the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries failed to renew the fishing licences of many skippers.
“Kalk Bay is the oldest fishing harbour in the country and should be declared a heritage site, and the old wooden boats should get a fishing licence attached to the vessel itself. The right stays with the boat, whoever owns it or sells it or buys it,” Simoes said on Wednesday.
“That way there will always be jobs for crew.”
The idea came to Simoes while he was sitting at home, fretting about how to make a living and thinking of ways to solve the loss of jobs for crews.
The fisheries department did not renew 235 linefish rights on New Year’s Day, leaving fishermen high and dry with no income.
Simoes called a public meeting in Kalk Bay on Wednesday, and invited several groups, including the Kalk Bay Ratepayers’ Association and businesses.
Mark Wiley, a DA MPL who attended the meeting, urged ratepayers and businesses to stand with the fishermen.
He believed the stripping of fishermen of their traditional fishing rights would take away the fishing community of Kalk Bay and that this would have a profound effect on the village.
“Kalk Bay may be under a much greater threat than just some people losing their licences,” Wiley said.
In an interview later, Simoes said many of the fishermen who crewed on boats could not read or write properly and fishing was the only job they knew.
Many had been doing the job for decades and, in some cases, their families had been fishermen for generations.
Some of them were extremely poor and living in the open, under the arches on the beach.
“My main aim is to secure Kalk Bay the livelihood of the vessels and crew in Kalk Bay,” Simoes said.
“We want to turn these old wooden vessels into historical moving monuments so the licence to fish gets attached to the boat, and not to the owner.
“That way whoever owns the boat doesn’t matter because that boat will always have a right to fish, as people have been doing here for all their lives.
“That way the crew here in Kalk Bay are guaranteed work on the boats, because we know there are some boats that will always go to sea.”
A vessel in the harbour, the Violet Glen, is the oldest working fishing boat in the country.
“It’s a hard life, you go to sea at four in the morning, you go in storms, and you must pay for bait and fuel, but it is the only one we know and we want to be able to fish,” Simoes said.