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Fishing cuts in line with court judgment

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This initiative has seen over 10 000 individual traditional fishers being recognised as small-scale fishers for the first time in South Africa’s history

Photo: Facebook/SA Pelagic Fishing Industry Association

WHILE government this year allocated the first 15-year fishing rights to small-scale fishers in Port Nolloth and Hondeklipbaai in the Northern Cape, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana this week said that he “was aware of the challenges that the current determined Total Allowable Catch and Effort (TAC/E) cuts would have on the industry, specifically the fishing communities.

This follows the department’s announcement of the TAC/E for the West Coast rock lobster (WCRL) sector for the 2018/19 fishing season, which saw a reduction of the TAC/E from previous years.

During the 2017/18 fishing season, the TAC/E was determined at 1 924.08 tons, however, this was challenged by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in the Western Cape High Court, on the grounds that it is unsustainable and the determination did not follow scientific advice.

The high court delivered a judgment on September 26 2018 and declared the determination of the total allowable catch for WCRL for the 2017/18 fishing season to be inconsistent with the Constitution as read with Section 2 of the National Environmental Management Act and the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA), and thus invalid.

“For the 2018/19 fishing season, the TAC/E of 1 084 tons has been determined following consultations and recommendations by the scientific working group, which is a 43.6% reduction when compared to the TAC/E of 1 924.08 tons determined for the 2017/18 fishing season,” Zokwana explained.

He said the department is working tirelessly to drive transformed economic sectors process in a manner that is not disruptive to the competitiveness of the sector, but also ensuring that this transformation is as inclusive as possible.

This, he said, is demonstrated by the recognition of previously marginalised small-scale fishers in South Africa through the amendment of the MLRA in 2014, where government commenced with a small-scale fisheries programme whose aim is to establish a new small-scale fishery throughout the coastal communities of South Africa.

This initiative, according to the minister, has seen over 10 000 individual traditional fishers being recognised as small-scale fishers for the first time in South Africa’s history.

“This, in essence, means that over 200 communities in the four coastal provinces will access marine resources legally for the purpose of participating in the ocean’s economy and for food security.”

During 2018, government allocated the first 15-year fishing rights to Port Nolloth and Hondeklipbaai in the Northern Cape, where a total of 103 individually recognised small-scale fishers have been assisted to register two co-operatives for the purpose of receiving economically sustainable 15-year fishing rights.