The collective that represents thousands of small-scale fishers from coastal near-shore fishing sectors in the Northern, Western, Southern and Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal says the system used to allocate the West Coast rock lobster fishing rights remains skewed. Despite the fishing season officially beginning on October 1, the delegated authority, Siphokazi Ndundane, has yet to determine the global rock lobster total allowable catch (TAC) for the commercial offshore and near-shore, small-scale and recreational sub-sectors said spokesperson for the fishers, Pedro Garcia.
He said the current system of allocation did not benefit the small-scale and near-shore fishers.
“When they eventually finalise the allocation for the TAC for the rock lobster, it will be percentages and not kilos. This will not address the imbalances in a system that still only caters for the commercial companies and keeps the indigenous and traditional fishers marginalised,” said Garcia.
He said the collective still believed suspending the current allocations and implementing interim relief for a period of three years and re-evaluating the process would both work towards addressing the imbalances and sustaining the natural resource.
It was evident the deeply impoverished majority within coastal fishing communities had been radically short-changed, said Garcia.
Premier Fishing and Brands, one of the country’s largest black-owned fishing companies, had a 65-year track record, said its chief executive Samir Saban.
“Our motivation has always been the transformation of the fishing industry and to strive to assist the small-scale and indigenous fishers to thrive within the industry.
“We aim to work with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to transform the landscape,” said Saban.
He said the allocations process was a complex and sensitive matter that had an impact on the livelihoods of both sides of the spectrum.
Department spokesperson Carol Moses said it issued rights related to the species, not to people.
“The commercial or far-shore industry differs to the near-shore with regards to the number and scale, and cannot be compared in many ways.”
“The TAC for the rock lobster will be issued soon but the process has been extended to allow the Fisheries management deputy director-general to consider further opinions from all sides before making a final decision,” said Moses.
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