Masifundise and Coastal Links are pressing for a response from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) over the denial of basic rights to small-scale fishers in East Coast fishing towns such as Arniston, Struisbaai and Pearly Beach.
49 fishers have not been beneficiaries of the flawed Interim Relief (IR) system since IR8 in regards to West Coast Lobster specifically. Some have been removed without their knowledge and others have documents from the Minister stating that they will be beneficiaries but then did not appear on any list of beneficiaries under the IR system. There are a number of non-deserving fishers on the IR list, with no history in the sector.
Masifundise and CLSA have described this situation as violation of the basic rights of the fishers.
Just over two weeks ago, a letter was sent to DAFF outlining the plight of the fishers and calling for action.
The letter followed countless marches, protests, letters, emails, telephone calls, faxes and press releases through the media. But DAFF is yet to respond to the justifiable concerns of the fishers. On 27 November 2014, the fishers from these towns were supported by fishers from across the province and from as far as Port Nolloth, in a protest march and the occupation of the DAFF offices, as well as the handover of a memorandum. During this occupation a delegation of fishers met with high level officials of the DAFF. It was at this meeting that the DAFF agreed to put the fishers back on the respective lists from the affected towns. It is now a whole year later and DAFF continues to renege on its undertaking.
A few days after the letter was sent fishers held at demonstration in Arniston on 28 November and handed over a memorandum to a local official.
Despite this and the fact that this matter has been dragging on for well over a year, DAFF has not responded to letter.
Masifundise and Coastal Links sent off a second letter this week expressing concern about the non-response and urging that the matter receives attention.
In the initial letter the two organisations had given the department seven days to respond but the letter only received acknowledgement from the office of the Director General Mr Mortimer Mannya who referred the matter to the Acting DDG: Fisheries Management Siphokazi Ndundane.
Masifundise had stated that one of the governments’ main objectives is to fight against hunger and poverty, and if it does not give heed to the concerns raised in previous correspondence, Masifundise and Coastal Links will conclude that the department works against its own programmes, or that they are not serious about their commitment to fight hunger and poverty and to create sustainable livelihoods.