Cape Town - With the extended appeals deadline for the Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP 2022) fast approaching, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment responded to small-scale fishers and fishing groups who believed the entire fishing rights allocation process was fundamentally flawed.
South African United Fishing Front chairperson Pedro Garcia said the fishing rights allocations needed to be observed from different angles, and that the application process, in its entirety, was placed beyond normal fisherfolk in communities.
“Online processes are not something that our people are very familiar with. The ground support that was given was grossly inadequate for people to really make a difference in terms of filling in their applications,” Garcia said.
Garcia added that the FRAP took away the fishing resources and then tied them up for the next 10 to 15 years, which meant that even if smallscale fishing groups were able to secure the necessary requirements afterwards, those resources would not be available to them.
Jonathan Julius, Masifundise community liaison officer for Western Cape and Northern Cape, said out of the nine commercial fishing sectors due for re-allocation in the FRAP, only three sectors were identified as eligible small-scale species.
“These species have been largely allocated to the commercial sector, leaving very little for the small-scale fishing sector to work from,” Julius said.
Julius said another grievance was the exorbitant FRAP application fee. He said several small-scale fishers used their savings to apply, only to be unsuccessful, with no refund.
Department spokesperson Albi Modise said FRAP 2022 targeted the commercial sector, for registered South African companies or individuals that want to pursue business opportunities in the fishing sector – hence it was not intended for small-scale fishers.
Therefore, Modise said the department was finalising the commencement of a different rights allocation process for the Western Cape.
For this to commence, the department was waiting for the finalisation of a court process, wherein the minister would request the initial process of declaration of small-scale fishers in the Western Cape to be reviewed and set aside, to make way for a new and improved process for the allocation of fishing rights to small-scale fishers.
“While waiting for the new process, the department issues over 3 000 fishing permits annually to fishing communities, as an interim measure,” Modise said.