Artisanal fisherman Charles America, 63-year-old, said poaching, in many instances, had become the only alternative for poor fishing communities to sustain themselves. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency
Artisanal fisherman Charles America, 63-year-old, said poaching, in many instances, had become the only alternative for poor fishing communities to sustain themselves. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

‘Unfriendly’ policies leave Cape fishermen in rough waters

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Mar 8, 2020

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Cape Town - The State enforces some of the most

horrific anti-poor and “fisher-unfriendly” policies and fisheries legislation, pressuring many to pursue

illegal fishing, according to artisanal

fisherman Charles America.

The 63-year-old, who has been fishing for the past three decades, said poaching, in many instances, had become the only alternative

for poor fishing communities to sustain themselves.

“The latest repressive strategy used by the state fisheries management department is to deliberately withhold fishing permits and licences The fishers who fish under the Equality Court-prescribed fishers’ interim-relief dispensation are being targeted by the fisheries inspectorate and a plethora of law enforcers,” he said.

America likened this practice to economic genocide of already poor communities in favour of a group or class whose narrow interests focused on self-enrichment and material advancement.

Angelo Joseph, a former poacher, said: “It’s hard to not do illegal fishing when you live in Hout Bay or Hangberg because I’d say almost 80% are either involved or indirectly involved in illegal fishing.”

Joseph, with Guerrini Marine Construction, has been working with youth in Hangberg and the broader Hout Bay community to equip former poachers with skills such as lifesaving and commercial diving.

“I left poaching years ago and (am) trying to help my community. I’ve embarked on a couple of projects, seen a lot of people, told them

my story, especially the youth, and telling them there’s more to the sea than poaching.”

He said out of 14 participants, six were employed by the City as lifeguards at its pools and beaches and, 11 people who previously depended on the abalone trade, were employed on a contractual basis.

He also gives children up to 12-years-old lifesaving training and workshops and will soon establish a school for the kids at the beach on Saturdays.

Joseph said in the Hangberg community, losing someone at sea had become a norm. “I started off in 2015 when I lost my friend. Seven years before that I lost a brother and a cousin and I think everyone in this community has been affected by this. It’s become a norm for you to lose someone at sea. It’s not only six people that are currently missing, there

are hundreds that are missing at sea.”

The NSRI and police continue to search for six people, believed to be missing at sea after their boat capsized on February 27, around Mouille Point.

Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Institute’s head of projects Sulaiman Appoles said that

poaching was caused by the unnatural monopolisation of ocean resources

by corporations and other firms,

which had left thousands of fishing families destitute.

“Until the approach of large-scale industrial fishing is addressed and until the elites’ (political and financial) power is broken or reduced, the unequal access to the ocean’s harvest will remain and poaching and the death of fishers will continue,” he said.

@TheCapeArgus

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