The continued harassment of Northern Cape fishers for fishing in a kraal in the Vanderkloof Dam could have consequences for a research project underway.

Government has initiative a fishery experimentation project aimed at creating food security for the struggling communities of Phillipstown, Petrusville and Keurkieskloof.

During the unfolding process, but separate to the main project, the prospect arose of fishers generating income from fishing in a Kraal near the Dam sluice gate.

After much discussion, it was agreed in last month’s Task Team meeting that fishers will now be legally recognised to take out fish from the kraals, and that they will be issued with permits which allow them to take out a certain amount of fish.

But the harassment and the issuing of fines continued after the meeting resolution and now fishers are not sure whether they should continue participating in the big research project on the Dam.

Raphael Benadie, chairperson of the Keurkieskloof Vissers Gemeenskap Organisasie, said that he had summonses for four fishers.

“Those are only the fines of the people who have come forward, what about the fines of people we do not know of,” said Benadie.

Benadie is extremely fed up with this situation, since the decision of the last meeting has been disregarded by some people who attended the meeting.

“The representative of the minister of Water and Sanitation (DWS) was in the meeting, and she clearly indicated that the minister has given her blessing to the fishers earning a living from the dam.”

“Who are the people who call the police to arrest the fishers when they fish in the dam?”

Benadie said that the fishers are issued with fines that said they have entered the property of DWS illegally.

The fines that fishers are getting are getting so out of hand, that Benadie believes that the fishers are starting to believe that it does not make economic sense to fish anymore, since they have to pay too many fines.

This, Benadie said caused the fishers who were part of the research part of the project, to be hesitant to participate, since they can get arrested and fined while participating in the research.

Benadie said that they will definitely raise these issues in the next Task Team Meeting, and will definitely request the meeting to get an answer from the police as to why they keep on harassing the fishers, and who are laying the charges against the fishers for being on DWS property illegally.

Masifundise is part of the project and its role is to organise and empower communities so that they are able to meaningfully participate.

Masifundise is part of the project at the invitation of the Department of Ichthyology at Rhodes University, who have been contracted by the Northern Cape Government to co-ordinate the project.

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