140212. Cape Town. Victor Andrews waits patiently with his fishing line in the ocean just of Kalk Bay as the sun comes up. Andrews has been fishing his entire life and see line fishing as an skilled job. The majority of traditional line fishermen in South Africa entered 2014 without the legal right to continue their operations. This comes after the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) denied their applications to have their rights renewed. Old rights expired at midnight on New Year’s Eve 2013. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus. Reporter Warren Fortune

Cape Town - The Western Cape ANC has petitioned the national Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana for urgent talks to review the government’s draft policy which – if implemented – could see fishing quotas allocated based on the country’s demographics.

The ANC is instead asking that consideration be given to provincial demographics. According to StatsSA, the country’s population is 79.2 percent black, both white and coloured make up 8.9 percent and Indians/Asians 2.5 percent.

Stopping short of predicting that the policy could spark renewed “swart gevaar” scare tactics and fear-mongering in the province, ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs warned that, in its current form, the draft fishing quota proposal would undoubtedly have “unintended consequences”.

Jacobs said if national demographics were used to determine who gets fishing quotas in the province , the spin-offs will be devastating for the already struggling fishing communities.

Jacobs said that while the ANC remained committed to an inclusive non-racial, non-sexist, country where diversity is celebrated, party leaders in the province could not allow the lives of fishing communities to further deteriorate.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact this national legislation will have on the people of this province. We are all working towards uplifting the poor and vulnerable, and this includes improving the lives of our fishing folk, not adding more burdens to their suffering.”

Jacobs said the ANC was awaiting a response from Zokwana, regarding an urgent meeting to discuss why national demographics should not be used in a province where the majority of people are coloured.

He added that the party has enjoyed a long and rich history with the province’s fishing community and would continue to stand up and fight for their upliftment.

“Fishing is a mainstay and important economic contributor to the province and its coastal communities. We need to learn from the past and ensure that real empowerment takes place, and that the rightful fishermen are ultimately the beneficiaries of the fishing quotas,” he stressed.

Jacobs added that the narrow application of black economic empowerment has overridden the rights allocation holding of traditional, artisan and coastal fisher rights holders in significant ways.

“The notably reduced allocation rights given to coastal communities have decimated thriving fisher communities in the process and has entrenched a coastal economic culture of trading with paper quotas and fronting,” he added.

Jacobs said the essence of a radical economic transition is not to replace white ownership with black ownership but to restructure the economic architecture of the fisheries industry and by socialising the modes of production in a manner which gives impetus to tackling the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

“We, as the ANC, argue that our government must ensure that the fisheries industry over the next 15 years undergoes an economic restructuring process capable of producing an inclusive economic growth path, improve food security, build sustainable livelihoods and restore the dignity of fishers of the coastal communities,” he said.

Meanwhile the department, in an update of the draft policies and fishing rights allocation process, said a successful public consultation process had garnered 970 consolidated comments from 111 individuals and companies.

“DAFF is currently reviewing all comments received and incorporating proposed changes into the revised Policies. The majority of the comments received were relating to the total allowable catch and effort as well as transformation as part of balancing criteria,” it said.

The department added that it was mindful of the possible confusion that existed as a result of different interpretation of various elements of the policies. “These policies set out the objectives, criteria and considerations that will guide the allocation and management of fishing rights. DAFF intends to ensure that all these objectives are properly met and are in line with all other broader government objectives in particular relating to recognition of historically disadvantaged individuals and the broad-based black economic empowerment,” the statement read.

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