Last week, DAFF informed CLSA fishers from Western and Northern Cape of the recommendation made by DAFF’s scientific working group to reduce the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL) to 790 tonnes. The recommendation is to reduce the quota for the Small-Scale fishing sector by 53 per cent.
The recommendation is rejected by the fishing communities in both Western Cape and Northern Cape. They believe that their human rights are being violated and that their fisher rights are not been recognised. 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the 2007 Equality Court Order that was meant to bring justice and recognition to a sector previously marginalised. Instead, the fishers feel that the Minister is contributing to the growing poverty levels in fishing communities by not prioritising the finalisation of the policy implementation process. 10 years is a long time to wait and the fisher communities are demanding that the policy be implemented NOW!
Protest actions around the coastline this past week marked the fisher’s frustrations – they have had enough. According to Sarah Niemand, Chairperson of the local Coastal Links branch in Buffelsjagbaai, people’s frustration with the government is peaking now and demonstrative actions have become necessary. This coming week will see many communities resort to protest action as the recommended cut in the TAC leaves them out to dry. On Monday, fishers in Buffelsjagbaai will protest around housing and fishing rights issues.
Talks within Coastal Links are underway to plan a demonstration at national level in the coming weeks should the Minister not commit to the immediate finalisation of the implementation of the SSF Policy.