Memorandum on Interim Relief 9 process

To:    The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Mr Senzeni Zokwana

The DDG of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr Mortimer Manye

From:  Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA) and Masifundise Development Trust (MDT)

27 November 2014


The ongoing mismanagement of the Interim Relief system by DAFF is causing much suffering in Small-Scale fishing communities across the Western and Northern Cape.

The late issuing of permits, the inclusion of non-fishers in beneficiary lists and general mismanagement by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) deprives fishers of sustainable livelihoods and is causing conflict in communities.

We have persistently brought areas of corruption and mismanagement in the allocation process, to the attention of DAFF officials. But nothing gets done about these.

In 2005 government adopted long-term fishing policies that made no provision for small-scale fishers. Masifundise took the matter to the Equality Court. In 2007 the Court ruled that a new policy must be developed and an interim relief package for small-scale fishers be formulated and implemented. The Interim Relief Permit system was meant to provide temporary relief to fishers, based on qualifying criteria, who did not benefit from Long Term Rights.

Interim Relief arrangements, which began in 2007, were meant to be in place for a year. But the Small-scale fisheries (SSF) policy was only finally adopted in 2012 and the Marine Living Resources Act changed this year. Implementation of this policy is yet to commence.

Meanwhile the IR system continues – and so do the irregularities, inefficiencies, mismanagement and general dysfunctionality.

Our ongoing experience

DAFF has issued permits late, year after year, depriving fishers of going to sea legally. We have had to resort to protests and complaints on many occasions and last year even recorded our grievances with the public protector.

Beneficiary lists often include non-fishers including professionals, business people and a range of others already in employment elsewhere. This not only deprives traditional fishers their right to earn a living but causes significant conflict in communities.

It is clear that DAFF officials lack knowledge of the IR system and are unable to respond to needs of small-scale fishing communities. Others are simply unresponsive, not replying to correspondence or requests for meetings. They even disregard valid information submitted to the department.

DAFF does not keep proper records of catches resulting in allocations being based on inadequate information and data.

DAFF’s unwillingness to consult meaningfully with fishing communities and their mandated representatives is a source of great discontent in coastal communities across South Africa. When discussions do take place, DAFF hardly ever does follow up or reports back to communities. Instead, processes often deteriorate further, as in the case of Interim Relief.

The system seems to bring increasing destruction to communities rather than provide relief. DAFF clearly does not have the capacity or political will to help small-scale fishers move from their difficult socio-economic conditions to a position of sustainable livelihoods.

Who do we represent?

Coastal Links South Africa represents 4 000 small-scale fishers in about 100 coastal towns across South Africa. This memorandum is written on behalf of small-scale fishing communities in the Western Cape and Northern Cape, including:

Paternoster; Langebaan; Hout Bay; Khayelitsha; Struisbaai; Pearly beach; Arniston; Gansbaai; Buffeljagsbaai; Port Nolloth; Doringbaai; Laingville; Hondeklipbaai; Lamberts Bay; Saldanha; Mamre; Elandsbaai; Kleinmond; Laaiplek; Ebenhaeser, Steenberg’s Cove and

We demand that:

  1. DAFF immediately issues all IR permits before the end of day.
  2. The nine fishers that were removed from the Pearly Beach List, under IR8, are restored to the list with immediate effect. See the list of names attached.
  3. The qualifying Interim Relief line fishers from Arniston and Struisbaai that were removed under IR8 are restored to the list with immediate effect. The Minister of Fisheries issued a letter on 19 Nov 2013 (find attached) which confirmed them as beneficiaries. Mysteriously a new set of non-fisher beneficiaries appeared on a revised list.
  4. A more simple and fisher friendly process.
  5. There be no reduction in the TAC for the Interim Relief process.
  6. Masifundise/Coastal Links South Africa be directly represented at the discussion table with DAFF regarding all matters pertaining to small scale fishers and their communities.


If the problems around IR happened once or twice, we could have written them off as teething problems, but permits are delayed each year, beneficiary lists are tainted by mismanagement and corruption and department records of fishing patterns appear to be in tatters.

DAFF seems incapable of managing the IR process and the result is immense suffering for fishing communities it is thus the time to implement the SSF policy and put an end to this arrangement and start the process of empowering communities.

We request that you respond to the set of demands immediately as these matters are critical for livelihoods in fishing communities.

Address your response to:

Mr Christian Adams


Coastal Links South Africa

073 986 8362

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