Cape Town - Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson is taking seriously the complaints of those who were not successful in fishing rights applications, her office said on Wednesday.
“We do understand the genuine grievances of communities who have been excluded from the fishing economy,” her spokeswoman Palesa Mokomele said.
“We understand the pressures they are under and the socio-economic challenges they have been left with.”
Western Cape police said around 70 fishermen protested for fishing permits outside the Hout Bay harbour in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana said the group did not have fishing licences and the protest ended after negotiations took place.
“They blockaded the entrances and were alleged to have assaulted those who did have permits,” said Kinana.
No arrests or injuries were reported.
The SABC reported that the protesters wanted former deputy director general of fisheries Desmond Stevens to be re-instated. They wanted Joemat-Pettersson to respond to their demands before they removed the blockade.
“We will dispatch a team to Hout Bay tomorrow morning (Thursday) to listen to the community,” Mokomele said.
In February, Joemat-Pettersson announced she had extended the period for appeals on the fishing rights allocation process until the end of April.
“There do seem to be legitimate concerns either relating to poor administration of the applications, or questionable judgements by the delegated officials,” she told journalists in Kalk Bay, Cape Town, at the time.
She said there was “significant unhappiness” regarding allocations. This involved those who had not received a quota, as well as unhappiness about the size of quotas.
Fishing quotas were allocated prior to the December 31 deadline last year. At the time, the minister said 3490 applications for rights were received across all sectors of the industry, but only 593 could be approved.
Mokomele said amendments to the Marine Living Resources Act would give recognition to small-scale fishers, such as those in Hout Bay, “for the first time in history”.
“Government will ring-fence fishing species for small-scale fishers,” she said.