Proposal to split fishing resources

Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 31, 2020


Gameema Salie

Cape Town - In a move towards a transformative fishing industry, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fishing (Deff) released a proposed amendment bill to split resources between the local commercial and small-scale fishing sectors.

The bill proposes a 50/50 split in the total allowable catch in abalone, a 50/50 split in the total allowable effort in linefish, and a 75/25 split in the total allowable effort in squid for the local commercial sector and small-scale sector respectively.

In the bill signed by Deff Minister Barbara Creecy, she said: “The proposed split will positively impact on the lives of small-scale fishers, improve food security and advance vulnerable groups such as women, youth and persons with disabilities.

“The small-scale fishing communities will also be enabled to participate in the whole value chain and to benefit substantially from their equitable apportionments and allocations.”

Deff Minister Barbara Creecy. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Fisherman and co-chairperson of the South African Small-Scale Fisheries Collective, Christian Adams said the ministry hadn’t shared exactly how it would help these vulnerable groups.

“We wanted 100% of abalone rights. If poachers can export 4 000 tons of abalone a year, why not increase the allocation for small-scale fishers, as this would increase the protection of the resource, alleviate poverty and create community food security.

“We’re at the mercy of the department because we’re not in the decision-making process. There’s a big number of quota holders sitting at home. If you don’t wet your hands, don’t step into our territory,” Adams said.

Head of projects at the Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Institute Sulaiman Appoles said the fishing of abalone should be at least 80% in favour of small-scale fishers, given the perilous low levels of the species.

“Abalone is one of the few high-value species in the basket and, much like the West Coast lobster, could be declared closed, implying a meaningless quota allocation.

“Similarly, the hake handline is a non-existent fishery that has been completely depleted thanks to inshore trawling activities for which snoek is a by-catch.

“The complete banning of inshore trawling would allow for the natural rebuild of stocks, allowing for the development of sustainable fishing and adding to food and income security,” Appoles said.

Linefish rights holder Charmaine Daniels said 50% was a big amount to take away form the commercial sector.

“If 50 percent goes to small scale, some of them aren’t bonafide fishers, and those quotas won’t be used. Why do they cut the commercial people for people who don’t work?”

Daniels suggested that 100% of the linefish allocation should be left to the commercial sector because small-scale fishers could work on commercial boats.

National fishing sector organiser at the Food and Allied Workers Union, Zolani Mbanjwa, said that the perceived understanding of transformation held by the previous administration under Fishing Rights Allocation Process 2013 and the

Fishing Rights Allocation Process 2015/16 was to take from bigger companies and to allocate fishing rights to the politically-connected who do not add any value and simply sell their fishing right.

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