Small scale fisher groups unite in protest march to Parliament where they will hand over their memorandum to Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)
Small scale fisher groups unite in protest march to Parliament where they will hand over their memorandum to Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape fishers give minister 48 hours to respond to their demands over West Coast rock lobster

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Oct 29, 2021

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Cape Town - Western Cape small-scale fisher groups yesterday gave Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy 48 hours to respond to a memorandum in which they demanded, among other things, that she immediately review the total allowable West Coast rock lobster catch.

Other demands in the seven-point memorandum by Weskusmandjie co-operative founder Hilda Adams outside Parliament, include that the Consultative Advisory Forum (CAF) includes the appointment of four members to represent fishing communities as it deals with the review of the TAC.

The fishers want the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to finalise plans to split resources between the local commercial and small-scale fishing sectors before November 15 this year.

In October last year the minister released a proposed amendment bill which offered 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.

The memorandum says: “The levels of poverty in our fishing communities, combined with its associated social ills, continues to rip through our communities with the devastating effects of a wild fire, and in its wake our fishers and their families are the smouldering embers of a failed system.

“We have been failed year after year and nowhere is it more evident than in the fact that we are moving into our seventeenth year of Interim Relief.”

Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy receiving the memorandum outside parliament. Picture by Mwangi Githahu/Cape Argus

They said Interim relief was handed down by the Equality Court and intended to fill the divide whilst waiting for the implementation of the small scale fisheries policy and that it was never meant to last more than three to four years.

Speaking at the memorandum handover Creecy said there would be a review of the decision on the 2021/2022 total allowable rock lobster catch.

She also said that after meeting with the fishers groups last week she had taken a decision to appoint a representative from each of the six small-scale fishers organisations as observers to the review process.

Creecy said: “I make one request to your leaders, and that request is that your sector needs to organise itself better.

“To have six different organisations in one sector is not a recipe for power. It is a recipe for fragmentation and division.”

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