Masifundise Development Trust (MDT) and Coastal Links SA (CLSA) through Legal Resources Centre (LRC), have raised their objections to the allocations in the line-fishery made to individual rights-holders, both new entrants and existing rights holders, who appealed against the allocations made in the 2013 Fishing Rights Application Process (FRAP 2013).

Masifundise and CLSA is concerned that the line-fishery contributes hugely to the food security and sustainability of the small-scale fishing sector, and should the minister go ahead with his proposed allocations to the appellants, that there will not be any TAE/TAC left to allocate for the small scale-fishing sector.

On March 8, 2016, minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana published a ‘Public Notice: Provisional Decisions on Appeals lodged in the Traditional Line Fishery.’

What this meant was that anybody or institutions who had any objections on his decisions in dealing with the appeals that were lodged against the allocation of rights in the line fishery on 30 December 2013, had until March 22, 2016 to submit comments on it.

Masifundise in their submission to the minister clearly indicates that all along the understanding has been that half of the Total Allowable Estimate (TAE) or Total Allowable Catch (TAC) would have been reserved for the small scale fishing sector.

When the FRAP was issued in 2013, the traditional line-fishers and other role-players caused a huge uproar because many traditional line-fishers has been denied permits to catch within the sector.

DAFF’s explanation at the time was that many of the rights-holders who were allocated rights previously, did not exercise their rights, and that new entrants also needed to be allowed into the sector, and that part of the line-fishery had to be reserved for the small scale fishing policy when it comes into operation.

The SACFLA took the department to court, and, later the department decided to settle out of court and requested all who applied to lodge appeals, which the department will look at.

In their submission, Masifundise clearly states the position of the small scale fishers in this regard, and what their expectations are: “Notably, MDT intervened in the SACFLA case to defend the Department’s decision, questioned by the commercial line fishing sector, to allocate fewer line fish rights in order to free up TAE to be awarded to the Small Scale Sector. As you are aware, the Small Scale Fisheries Sector has been created with the promulgation of the Small Scale Fisheries Policy (SFFP) and the coming into force of the Marine Living Resources Act earlier this year. The implementation of the Small Scale Fisheries Policy – and thus the compliance with the Kenneth George Court Order – requires sufficient effort to be taken from existing sectors in order to fill the newly created baskets of small scale fishing communities.”

In 2008, 450 rights were allocated. Research indicated that by 2013, that at least 150 rights holders did not exercise their rights.

In 2013, DAFF only issued half of those rights, and set the rest aside for the implementation of the small scale fisheries policy.

With the latest announcement by the minister, it seems like what the small scale fishers have fought for all these years, have now been rolled back, since the minister will now be issuing a further 208 fishing rights to the appellants, which in effect would mean that all the rights will almost be reserved for the commercial sector.

This MDT and CLSA feel that the whole process of issuing fishing rights to the commercial and recreational sectors, while prolonging the implementation of the SSFP, are prejudicial to small scale fishers all over South Africa.

On behalf of MDT and CLSA, LRC concludes in their submission to the minister with:

“In conclusion, our clients submit that the minister is continuing to prejudice small-scale fishing communities in favour of commercial interests despite the lip service to the SSF sector by:

  • Refusing to announce the apportionments for the small scale sector;
  • Allocating almost the entire line fish TAE to individual commercial line fishers;
  • Keeping small scale fishing communities in the dark as to when and how the SSFP will be implemented – forcing them to continue applying for rights in other sectors out of fear of being entirely excluded.”
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