File photo: INLSA
File photo: INLSA

Walkout at meeting with ministry over rock lobster suspension

By Dominic Adriaanse Time of article published Oct 16, 2017

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Small-scale and near-shore fishers walked out of a meeting in Cape Town with the deputy director-general for Fisheries Siphokazi Ndudane yesterday, saying her explanations relating to the suspension of the West Coast rock lobster fishing rights allocation were not sufficient.

Earlier, angry fishers blocked the entrance to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries offices on the Foreshore again, protesting the outcome of the fishing rights allocation process and blocking entry into the offices.

Hout Bay Fishers Community Trust spokesperson Ikram “Lamie" Halim said the department and fishers had not reached an agreement during the meeting.

“(Ndudane) met with a delegation that represented the fishing organisations that met with her and Senzeni Zokwana (Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) in September,” Halim said.

“We are asking for (Ndudane) and the minister to postpone the proposed reductions (of fishing allocations) on the rock lobster and stop the offshore allocations of commercial companies.

“The new fishing season starts next month and we have been waiting weeks for them to provide us with answers,” he added.

Halim said a range of issues were raised, including the identification and vetting process for small-scale fishers, and that the bigger fishing companies could make up any loss as they fished other species.

In September, 10 fishing organisations marched to the department’s offices on the Foreshore, demanding that Zokwana respond within a week to their demands for the immediate cessation of the West Coast rock lobster fishing rights allocation process.

After violent protests erupted in Hangberg, Hout Bay, the minister met with the fishers and also called for a follow-up meeting the next day between the fishers and Ndudane.

The issues addressed at the meetings included the recommendation to cut the total allowable catch, the allocation of fish for small-scale fisheries in the period prior to the 2010 Fishing Rights Allocation Process and a proposal to suspend allocations on rock lobster and abalone.

Coastal Links SA chairperson Christian Adams said fishing communities from the West Coast, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Western Cape were represented yesterday.

He added that no real answers were provided by Ndudane, who told them that only through the courts could the legislation be changed.

Each organisation would return to their communities and decide on their individual strategies forward, said Adams.

Numerous attempts to contact Ndudane before publication were unsuccessful.

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