The DA will submit an urgent Promotion of Access to Information Act application following the agriculture, forestry and fisheries department's announcement on fishing rights, it said on Monday.

“Of great concern, the department of fisheries has refused to provide reasons for why fishing rights applications have been denied,” Democratic Alliance spokesman Pieter van Dalen said in a statement.

The refusal to publicise this information brought into question the lawfulness of the processes followed in allocating the rights.

The department announced the rights allocation on December 30. Out of 3490 applicants, only around 600 rights were granted in seven different sectors.

Of 1556 applications for traditional line-fishing rights, only 215 were successful, while the rest were denied fishing rights.

The outcomes of the application process were devastating for most fishermen and their families who had held rights for at least eight years and in some cases for the past 20 years, said Van Dalen.

The DA had already asked agriculture, forestry and fisheries portfolio committee chairwoman Lulu Johnson to call an emergency meeting on the matter.

“Furthermore, we will be writing to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela requesting that she launch an investigation into the lawfulness of the processes followed in the allocation of rights,” he said.

“It is therefore imperative that Parliament and the public protector investigate this. The lives of thousands of fishermen and their families are depending on government to allow them to continue their trade.”

The department was not available for comment. -Sapa