Many fishers to appeal the outcome
Small-scale fishers in the Western Cape are up in arms over the ‘Western Cape Registration and Verification Results’ List of the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), and in many small towns on the West and South Coasts, fishers wanted to take to the streets, but decided that they will appeal the results and see what comes out of that process.
The ‘Western Cape Registration and Verification Results’ list was released by DAFF on Friday October 21 to make known to fishers who of the thousands of fishers who came forward to be registered and verified for the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy (SSFP) made it on to the list.
Fishers were supposed to have been notified 90 days after they have registered about their status as bona-fide fishers, according to the SSFP, but DAFF took almost five months to make the results known, since the registration and verification process came to an end in May in the Western Cape.
Kenneth George, the fisher from Red Hill in Simonstown, who lodged the case against the government in the Equality Court in 2005, which gave rise to the introduction of the SSFP for small-scale fishers, was excluded from the list published on Friday October 21.
This effectively tells George that he is not a fisher, the man who the Equality Court believed to be a fisher, and whom the Equality Court directed that he be protected and given rights as a fisher, together with the thousands of fishers all over South Africa who suffered the same fate as he when the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998 (MLRA 1998) was legislated.
“I registered at the Foreshore at DAFF’s offices, with another fisher Jeffrey Sogwazile who also lives in Red Hill,” said George.
“None of us were notified by SMS that we could go and view the results at a certain place by DAFF, we heard from other people that Jefferey is on the list and that I am not on the list.”
Mary Hull from Kleinmond on the South Coast said that the fishers of Kleinmond wanted to go to the streets and that many fishers were despondent when the ‘Western Cape Registration and Verification Results’ were released.
“Out of 200 people who registered, only four people were recognised by DAFF as fishers in Kleinmond,” said Hull.
Before people registered for the SSFP in Kleinmond, there were 44 people recognised by DAFF as small-scale fishers under the Interim Relief (IR) system, now under the SSFP, they only recognise that there are only four small-scale fishers in Kleinmond.
“Of the four fishers recognised as small-scale fishers, two were on IR and two are commercial fishers. The two commercial fishers have already indicated that they are not going to come over to the small-scale, which leave us with only two fishers for the policy.”
The irony of all this Mary Hull said is that she has been the care-taker under the IR, and not even she is recognised as a small-scale fisher, and that for eleven years DAFF has recognised people as small-scale fishers under the IR, but suddenly they are not small-scale fishers anymore.
“Today I went to the local DAFF office, and we as a community have decided that we will start processing our appeals next Tuesday.”
In Arniston, another South Coast fisher town, fishers are also very agitated that a large group of people have been excluded from the SSFP, through the list that was published.
“Out of 97 people that registered, only 47 people were on the list, which included fishermen, commercial fishers and women,” said Rovina Marthinus of Coastal Links in Arniston.
“Many Coastal Links members were not on the list, and people are furious and they are starting to blame the people who were sitting on the panel for their exclusion from the list.”
Marthinus believe that the panellists should not be blamed and the final list that was published is the work of DAFF.
“We will appeal against this list and each fisher must go and get their own individual appeal forms, someone else cannot go and fetch it on their behalf, so fishers must take time to go and fetch their appeal letters.”
In Buffelsjagsbaai only 47 of the 120 people who registered found their names on the list, leaving 73 people out of the SSFP.
“Amongst our list there is a variety of groups of people ranging from youth to women, fishermen and pensioners,” said Sarah Niemand from Coastal Links in Buffelsjagsbaai.
“Many fishermen were also unsuccessful, and we are definitely going to appeal against this list, because before the registration, there were 64 people on IR, now we are less.”
In Khayelitsha the results also brought anxiety and disbelief amongst fishers
“We are heart broken by the list. Most of the fishers did not make it and only 12 fishers made it to the list, moreover, we do not know half of the people in this list. We will appeal this process, said Sandile Mbali.
In Laingville on the West Coast women feel cheated out of the SSFP by the list that was published on October 21.
“We have decided to appeal the process as communities, I mean, not even one women appeared on the list and these women have been “vlekkers” for all their lives. We feel so excluded and cheated by this list,” said Cathy Sauls from Coastal Links.
In Langebaan fishers complain that most fishers have been excluded from the list, and that the list cannot be left as it is, it has to be appealed.
“A process that is a joke; I, a bona-fide fisher for all my life did not make it to the list. I really think this whole process should be reviewed because these service providers have not done it justice. I mean most of the real fishers in my community have fallen out – what are we going to eat? We are definitely appealing the process, but we will still have to decide whether we will appeal as a community or as individuals,” said Norton Dowries, vice-chair of Coastal Links in Langebaan.
Fishers want SSF to be properly implemented
Two weeks ago, fishers announced that they were gearing up for action around two other issues, in addition to the lists. These are:
- The basket of resources to be allocated under the SSFP; Most rights this year went to the commercial sector and the small-scale basket is diminishing. The is in violation of the Amended Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA)
- The Government Gazette Notice of September 16 that seeks to limit the fishing rights under the SSFP to three years. Fishers are of the opinion that small-scale fishing is a customary right and that no time limit can be placed on customary rights.
As far as the allocations are concerned, Masifundise and Coastal Links SA have called for West Coast Rock Lobster commercial allocations to be suspended until the SSF Policy comes into operation.