The affordable education loan option
Cape Town - Recreational kreef fishermen are outraged that their annual quota is again facing a major cut, this time by more than half from 183 tons to just 83 tons.
They are demanding that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries releases a report that it commissioned more than a year ago into the economic and socio-economic value of the recreational kreef (West Coast rock lobster) fishery.
There are claims that this report, compiled by Mthente Research and Consulting Services, makes findings contrary to the department’s policy of reducing the recreational quota in order to boost small-scale kreef fishermen and holders of “interim relief” kreef rights.
The recreational fishermen say a quota for the 2013/14 season - technically, the total allowable catch (TAC) - cannot logically be determined without reference to this report. The official response is that the report has not yet been finalised and as such is not public, department spokeswoman Carol Moses said in response to a Cape Argus request for a copy.
DA fisheries spokesman Pieter van Dalen is going to ask for this report to be tabled in Parliament and, in the meantime, cognisance must be taken of a 2008 report commissioned by the SA Deep Sea Angling Association. This found that the impact of sport and recreational fishing on the South African economy was R18.8-billion.
On Wednesday, the Cape Argus was asked to leave a consultation meeting in Sea Point where Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries officials presented their final recommendations for the 2012/13 TAC to representatives of the various sectors in the kreef fishery.
These sectors, with their allocations from last season’s TAC, are the offshore fishery (1 540.78 tons), near-shore (451 tons), recreational (183 tons), and interim relief (251 tons). The proposed 2013/14 TAC is 2 180 tons - down 246 tons or just over 10 percent.
The kreef resource is in a desperate state and is estimated at just three percent of its historical levels. The department is committed to a recovery strategy that is aimed at restoring it to 35 percent by 2021.
Cary Steele-Boe, managing director of the not-for-profit Recreational Fishing Services that represents the recreational sector, said earlier they had been told their preliminary recreational TAC was being reduced by more than half and the number of fishing days cut from 57 to just 25.
Two other sectors were being reduced by up to 12 percent while the near-shore commercial fishery would remain as it was. Steele-Boe said this proposal was unconstitutional.
Van Dalen said the department’s assumption that recreational permits were only used by rich, normally white, people was “devoid of all truth” and that there was
“a whole fishing industry built around recreational fishing”.
* The department has been asked to comment.