The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy has dismissed appeals lodged against a decision to grant prospecting rights in Oliphants River, Western Cape.

Masifundise is distressed by this decision to uphold the granting of an Environmental Authorisation to Mineral Sands Resources (PTY).

In September, Masifundise held a workshop as part of our Socio-Economic Rights Project (SERP) project with the local small-scale fishers of Ebenhaezer to discuss the obstacles that inhibit their right to work.

Small-scale fishing communities rely on access to traditional fishing grounds and the natural resources for their lives and livelihoods. The proposed expansion of coastal mining activities will restrict their ability to put nutritious food on the table and contributing towards building local economies.

The minister’s decision to accept the prospecting application right is potentially devastating for the future of small-scale fishing communities.

The high level of activity in the area, as well as runoff and dust that may impact on the environment will be huge.

The department’s decision to accept prospecting applications such as these are tantamount to the selling off of common spaces for privatisation and profiteering.

Sylvester Donn, Coastal Links leader from Ebenhaezer, said that “the area where they are prospecting now are just to get the go-ahead but that their ultimate goal is to mine in the area of the estuary. There is also the issue of current mining operations’ waste going into the ocean.”

“The number of mining applications on the West Coast from Alexanderbaai all the way to Elandsbaai is piling up. This will impact the future of small-scale fishing communities on their right to work and right to food” said Carmen Mannarino, Programme Manager at Masifundise.

“Small-scale fishers on the West Coast have been mobilising in the last week against the reduced WCLR TAC. The Minister has agreed to review her decision. However, if all these mining activities on the coast are allowed to continue, their impacts on the resources fishers rely on will be irreversible” she said.