City: Not all piers are banned for fishing

Fishing is not banned at all piers in the eThekwini Municipality, the city said this week.

Fishing is not banned at all piers in the eThekwini Municipality, the city said this week.

Published May 18, 2024


Fishing is not banned at all piers in the eThekwini Municipality, the city said this week.

This comes after local fishermen claimed they had been banned since 2009 from fishing at the piers, over fears it could impact tourism during the 2010 soccer world cup. The ban was imposed at the time by the former city manager Michael Sutcliffe.

eThekwini Municipality spokesperson, Gugu Sisilana, said: “It must be stressed that not all piers are banned for fishing. There are piers that are open for fishing, and some are closed for fishing. The primary reason for closure of some piers is due to non-compliance by fishermen.”

She said the fishermen were not compliant in terms of the National Environmental Management Act and had no valid licenses, caught undersized fish, and exceeded the bag limit.

“Some issues include lack of hygiene, assault, sleeping, use of drugs and littering by fishermen which impact negatively on tourists and beaches. As such, this has resulted in some piers permitted for fishing and some banned,” she added

Sisilana said fishing was only permitted at Snake Park Pier, Battery Beach Pier, Country Club Pier and Blue Lagoon Pier.

“The Parks, Leisure and Cemeteries Department has a Law enforcement Division that is working tirelessly with Metro Police to attend to these challenges; they issue fines and make arrests but there is no improvement,” she said.

“Hence, fishing is not permitted at Bay Pier, North Beach Pier and Dairy Beach Pier.”

Desond D’sa of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) said they had been dealing with this issue for years.

“We have been liaising with various members from the department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries but not much has been done. We do have a good relationship with the national government, and they have done a few things to help. But, it is the local municipality that is the problem, they have banned fishing off piers,” said D’sa.

He claimed they were preventing fishing to allow bathers and surfers to be in the water.

“We understand that there are surfers, but this is during the day. What we want is for fishing to be allowed from sunset to sunrise when there is no one in the water,” he said.

He said the municipality had refused to meet with them for a sit-down discussion.

“We recently held a march from Suncoast beach promenade to Durban Amphitheatre to hand over a memorandum, but the city did not turn up.”

He said they would continue liaising with the respective people in charge but if nothing came of it, they would be forced to take the matter to court.

John Peter Narainsamy, chairperson of the KZN Subsistence Fishing Forum, said: “Our subsistence fisher folk are suffering to put food on their tables. These are unemployed people who live below the poverty line. Families are going to bed on empty tummies. Fisherfolk have to travel further to fish, incurring more costs.”

He said: "We have been trying relentlessly to engage with the relevant authorities to no avail. We tried to set up a meeting with the previous premier of KwaZulu Natal and city officials, to no avail.

“There is a task team to address this issue but there is no representation from the fisherfolk concerned. We request that we be included in all discussions because there should be no decisions made for us without us.”

Jeffery Munsamy Naicker,71, a subsistence fisherman from Phoenix, said this was his livelihood.

“I have been fishing for most of my life. I am not retired and rely on fishing as an additional source of income as my pension only covers the lights and water. Not being allowed to fish from piers has caused a big problem because we need more ground to fish from. We are only allowed to fish from Snake Park Pier which is not even a proper pier. Sand has been dumped here and it is not conducive for fishing.

We are treated like criminals when all we want is to provide for our families,” he said.

David Naicker,62, of Umkomaas, said he used to travel by train to Durban Beach as it was a cheaper option.

“Now I have to take a taxi and it is over R40. We rely on catching fish to try and cover our costs. Snake Pier doesn’t allow us to do that. The pier can only take so many fishermen and so when we get to the beach and the pier is full it's like a waste of our money,” said Naicker.