Two weeks ago, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) announced that they will cut the Western Cape small-scale fishers rock lobster allocation to 35kg as part of the Interim Relief dispensation for 2021/2022.
According to the department, “relevant data required to produce a comprehensive assessment was “collected and analysed” in determining the 2020/21 season allocation and the recommendation for 2021/22”.
The Rock Lobster allocation has been reduced from 160kg to 35kg over several years.
This decision will further threaten lives and livelihoods of small-scale fishers already battered by the damage caused by 18 months of the Covid-19 pandemic. The allocation can only yield the pitiful amount of R6 000 per annum or R500 per month.
On the 21 October, DFFE released an official statement stating that they have noted the concerns raised by fishing communities about the reduction of the West Coast Rock Lobster Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and said they are “aware that fishing communities, especially small-scale fishers, are more vulnerable to the impact of recently announced reduction in the catch quota.”
Small scale fishers across the Western Cape were not satisfied with this response and planned a march to parliament to hand over a list of demands to the Minister.
A few days later, on the 25th October, the department announced an additional statement declaring that, “following widespread concern and representations to Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister, Ms. Barbara Creecy from both the small-scale and commercial sectors regarding the recent cut in the Rock Lobster Total Allowable Catch (TAC), the Minister will request the newly appointed Consultative Advisory Forum (the CAF) to review the 2021/2022 TAC process and allocation”.
The forum will consist of a panel of international and local fisheries and conservation scientists, community representatives and FishSA representatives.
The Minister acknowledges the impact of the reduction on small-scale fishers and vows to prioritise this during the review process.
“Consideration must be given to how we ensure we strengthen the ability of communities to work with the department to co-manage this important resource” says Creecy.