Alarming drop in rock lobster catch figures
Cape Town - The depleted state of the West Coast rock lobster has contributed to a 22.8% reduction in catch sizes for the next year.
The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) said the 2020/21 Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is a 22.8% reduction of the TAC of 1 084 tons for the 2019/20 fishing season.
“A TAC of 837 tons has been determined for the 2020/21 fishing season, taking into account the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry, the highly depleted status of the West Coast rock lobster resource, and lower-than expected resource status indicators,” the department said.
Minister Barbara Creecy said the intention to decrease the TAC was to assist the sector with economic recovery.
Western Cape Rock Lobster Association (WCRLA) chairperson Shamera Daniels said poaching was on the increase and was severely impacting the number in species.
At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic the association predicted a R256m loss this year when China halted imports.
“We are engaging the department in a recovery plan. We started the discussion and then Covid hit. The recovery plan would include various anti poaching initiatives, including the use of technology.
“We need to stop romanticising poaching because people still think poachers are fishermen who want to put food on their table. And yes, there is that aspect, but the large majority of poaching activity is now linked to criminal activity and organised crime.”
Similar to previous fishing seasons, the department also said it will apply efforts to restrict the daily bag/catch limits and the number of fishing days.
Local fisherman, Andre Arendse, said many people still relied on the ocean for their livelihood.
The 2020/21 WCRL recreational fishing effort is limited to 12 days between November 28 and April 3 next year.
A recreational fishing permit is valid for the entire season.
West Coast rock lobster may be caught between 8am until 4pm daily. The bag limit is four per person per day and the size restriction is 80 millimetres carapace length.
No person catching lobster with a recreational fishing permit may sell their catch. Any lobster caught, collected or transported must be kept in whole.