Creecy grants Western Cape small scale fishers access to rock lobster season
JOHANNESBURG - Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy on Wednesday said she has granted small-scale fishers in Western Cape access to fishing during the 2019/20 West Coast rock lobster season as part of the transition to the new small-scale fishing sector.
Considering the requests from communities, the minister said the department had been instructed to fast-track the roll-out of the small-scale fisheries sector in the province.
"There was a general call for interim relief fishers to continue fishing for the next season and for fishers on the declared small-scale fishers list to be granted access to fish," said Creecy.
She said the department was also directed to provide a transition from the current interim relief arrangement to a permanent and more structured small-scale fisheries sector in the Western Cape.
"It is imperative for small-scale fishers to be granted access to fishing while they are waiting on their 15-year fishing rights to be allocated."
"These 2,749 fishers were declared for the first time in 2018 as small-scale fishers as part of the roll-out of small-scale fishing sector in the Western Cape," said Creecy.
Creecy said that the current interim relief dispensation would continue taking into account that some interim relief fishers have already signed contracts for the West Coast rock lobster 2019/20 fishing season.
The minister said interim relief fishers and small-scale fishers would equally share the West Coast rock lobster allocation allocated to them for the 2019/20 fishing season.
Fishers also raised their concerns about caretakers in the interim relief dispensation exploiting fishers.
"It is for this reason that in preparation for the West Coast rock lobster 2019/20 fishing season there will be no caretakers," she said.
"All fishers will be required to sign a letter of authorisation drafted by the department on the amended interim relief list for 2019/2020 fishing season. Interim relief fishers are to nominate an individual who will execute specific and spelled-out tasks on behalf of Interim Relief (IR) fishers.
"On signing, each fisher is given an opportunity to indicate which marketer they have signed with. This will also allow fishers who have not signed a contract to choose who they want to market their products without being influenced on the choice of marketer."
Creecy said the person authorised by the majority of fishers in a community to assist interim relief fishers will be able to assist in the completion of permit and license application forms, collating all the necessary supporting documents required by the department, and ensuring that fishers do not sign more than one contract at a time.
The minister said she was considering the appointment of an independent panel to review the appeals of all unsuccessful applicants, and for it to provide a revised list of fishers who can be declared as additional small-scale fishers.
- African News Agency (ANA)