File photo: Marcelin Barry

Police were called to maintain order when a group of disgruntled fishers stormed the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries offices on the Foreshore yesterday.

They were demanding the immediate suspension of the West Coast rock Llobster fishing rights allocation process.

They want the West Coast rock lobster offshore allocations shifted from big companies to near shore and small scale fishers. 

The group, representing 10 fishing organisations including the Hout Bay Fishers Community Trust, Kleinmond Integrated Fishing Forum and  Mitchells Plain Fishing Forum, also wanted an immediate meeting with minister Senzeni Zokwana and other senior officials to address the challenges faced by poor fishing communities.

In their memorandum addressed to Zokwana, the organisations said they no longer trust the department and its officials who misled communities into believing that there was relief in sight. 

“Fishers and fishing communities will no longer tolerate the arrogance and rudeness of officials who seem to think they are above the law or that they can treat communities as it suits them.

“You continually force communities to spend hard-earned money or have to borrow against their meagre allocation to visit your offices because officials refuse to answer the telephone and respond to emails,” they said.

The department had failed to make provision for the small-scale fisheries policy in terms of the resources required to create buckets of species that would make “economic sense”  during the 2013 and 2015/16 fishing rights allocation process, the organisations said. 

“Daff  must be honest when dealing with communities in respect of the small-scale fisheries policy. It is clear to all that there will not be sufficient resources to offer communities a policy which would make economic sense until 2020. 

Daff must revisit the identification and verification of fishers which has been widely rejected by fishing communities throughout South Africa as undemocratic and corrupt,” they said. 

Grassy Park fisherman Abdul-Aziz Jacobs said:  “Now that the list of the names with those who were successful in their applications were released, it’s been brought to light that new entrants weren’t going to be given rights. 

“These fishermen coming here today are not here to cause violence, they want to be given the right to go to sea  to earn a decent living and be able to put bread on the table of their families. 

"With the process that is under way, this has turned into a situation where the rich gets richer while the poor gets poorer.”