Cape Town - 140105 - Fishermen and women gathered at a church in Hangberg to pray for God's intervention and provision in the ongoing fishing fiasco. Reporter: Daneel Knoetze Picture: David Ritchie

The South African Linefish Association (Sacla) has revealed the legal arguments that will underpin its Western Cape High Court bid to have the government’s Fishing Rights Allocation Process (Frap) declared legally null and void.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has been at loggerheads with Sacla, and most of the fishermen they represent, since the beginning of the year. This followed from the department’s denial of long-term rights to about 190 active line fishermen across South Africa. Of the 215 rights allocated, effective from January 1, 100 went to new applicants.

The department’s deputy director-general for fisheries, Desmond Stevens, has argued that the entrance of new applicants to the sector is consistent with the department’s “transformation” agenda.

The fishermen who lost their rights have noted, however, that many of the new entrants do not have boats, are not based at the coast and are allegedly aligned to the ANC.

This week the linefish association named a legal team which will approaching the high court to seek an urgent interdict against the rights allocation process. Speaking at a Cape Town Press Club meeting yesterday, the association’s legal adviser, Shaheen Moolla, outlined the group’s legal argument.

Moolla contends that the department tried to squeeze the two-year preparation needed for a new Frap into six months.

“As a result, the minister (Tina Joemat-Pettersson) and her staff sidestepped a number of legal requirements,” he said.

These included:

* Joemat-Pettersson did not get the cabinet’s approval when developing a new Frap, which is national policy. This was in contravention of section 85 of the constitution, which stated that only the cabinet can pass, develop or implement national policy.

* There was an insufficient public consultation process.

Stevens said that many previous statements by Moolla had been “proven to be false”.

Cape Argus