File photo: Xinhua News
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has been slammed by members of the small-scale fishing community and recreational fishers following their announcement on the 2017/ 18 fishing season for the West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL).

Last week, the department announced the total allowed catch (TAC) for the fishing season that officially opened yesterday would remain at 1924.08 tons.

Representing the interest of small scale fishers in the Northern, Western and Southern Cape and calling itself the “collective”, the latter issued a statement:

“The department has blatantly ignored the pleas of fishing communities in support of allocations to big companies. 

"The collective had protested, handed over memoranda, engaged with the minister and deputy director-general (Siphokazi Ndudane) and all to no avail. 

"It is apparent that the collective had wasted its time and efforts engaging with the department, that had no intention of adequately accommodating fishing communities.”

It continued that the WCRL remained a key resource, which could be harnessed to bring about a form of interim relief for fishing communities, until a policy could be introduced that made economic sense.

The overall TAC per sector remained as per the 2016/ 17 season with only 20% of the commercial fishing (offshore) allocation transferred to small-scale sector and 50% of the Nearshore TAC transferred to the commercial nearshore.

The recreational sector was granted nine days to fish, the dates of which will be issued in the Government Gazette soon.

Western Province Deep Sea Angling Association and South African Deep Sea Angling Association representative Jeremy Hare said: “I also assist the Ocean View fishermen. The department has been trying for years to cut the recreational sector out of the WCRL fishery. 

"Even after they commissioned a report to establish the financial & socio-economic impact of the recreational sector in the Western Cape.”

He said the report was not released for three years by DAFF as it did not support their desire to cut them out.

The Cape Times approached organisations within the commercial sector, which declined to comment on the matter.

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