Fisher’s welcome decision…

Small-scale fishers have welcomed a decision by government to dump Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife as custodian of the province’s 560km coastline and marine resources but other stakeholders have criticised the move.

“Time and time again our fishers have complained about the Ezemvelo Wildlife and how they have treated fishers,” commented Lindani Ngubane, Masifundise fieldworker.

“We have organised marches and spoken to the minister and the municipality about the treatment our people received,” he continued.

The report says the national fisheries department has confirmed that it is cancelling Ezemvelo’s long-standing contract to monitor and patrol the KZN coastline – but has failed to provide any reasons for the decision.

However, fisheries experts say they have been told that the decision may be part of a ‘vote-catching move’ by senior political figures to relax fishery control regulations for the benefit of coastal communities.

The report states Ann McDonnell, the DA spokesperson on KZN Environmental Affairs, is convinced that the decision is motivated more by politics than sound marine science and she has demanded answers on the rationale for the move.

Mr Shezi, fisher and chairperson of CLSA in KZN said that if this was a political move then it was not a bad one yet it is sad if such decisions are taken to only gain votes. “ We are glad that Ezemvelo has finally been dealt with, we have complained about the unfair treatment and anger of the fishers”.

Deputy Fisheries Minister Bheki Cele has confirmed that he supported the plans, says another report in The Mercury. It says Cele could not be reached directly last week to confirm whether or not he personally directed his department to cancel the contract, but said that Ezemvelo had ‘experienced challenges (which have been) documented in the media’.

Also, he said, ‘the contract had ended and was extended so there is absolutely no obligation to keep the contract going’, according to the report.

Masifundise Development Trust and Coastal Links South Africa welcome the decision by the department.

“Even though this decision took a long time and it comes at a back drop of endless correspondences to DAFF by fishers and the suffering of many, we are encourage that DAFF did listen to the cries of the fishers who were at the receiving end of the tyranny of Ezemvelo”, commented Mandla Gqamlana of Masifundise.

“We however hope that whoever they will entrust to take care of the marine resources of the province will respect the communities and their management style will be consultative (inclusive of communities) as they will be managing the country’s resources on behalf of fishers, “ he continued.

According to a report in The Mercury Newspaper, Marine scientists fear that poaching and over-fishing in KZN will rise sharply because of the government’s decision.

The Coastwatch chair Rod Bulman said the group was ‘deeply concerned’ about the plan to transfer responsibility for marine and coastal issues from Ezemvelo to the national Department of Fisheries at the end of June.

‘We believe that the monitoring and compliance function exercised by Ezemvelo should be strengthened rather than transferred. Ezemvelo currently also has responsibility for monitoring vehicles on the beach, which includes all boat launch sites in KZN,’ said Bulman, noting that the provincial conservation agency was also involved in collecting data from the catch registers completed by each fishing boat.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial