Masifundise wrote an opinion letter expressing  deep concern about the mismanagement of the interim policy. The letter was published on March 3, 2013 in the Weekend Argus: Sunday Views, Page 22.

Flawed interim policy offers little relief to fishers

There are deep flaws in the management of the Interim Relief dispensation for small-scale fishers which threaten their livelihood and the sustainability of the West Coast Rock Lobster, popularly known as ‘kreef’.

We believe that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is mismanaging this process and have called for the urgent intervention of the relevant Portfolio Committee in parliament.

It is now a matter of historical fact that when the government adopted long-term fishing policies in 2005, they made no provision for small-scale fishers. In 2006, Masifundise, Coastal Links and the Artisanal Fishers Associations of South Africa took the matter to the Equality Court. The Court ruled that a new policy must be developed and an interim relief package for small-scale fishers be formulated and implemented. The latter was meant to be a short-term provision but has been in place for six years because of the delay in finalising the policy.

The Interim Relief dispensation is still in place, even though the policy was adopted by Cabinet in June 2012.

Since its inception the Interim Relief dispensation has been plagued with challenges. Catches are not properly monitored and recorded and we have suspicion that there are instances of fraud in the system.

Over the years we have had several engagements with DAFF with regard to these flaws in an effort to find constructive solutions. Much to our despair, we find that no corrective action has been taken and processes are just repeated year in and year out, with the same effect.

Most of the beneficiaries of the Interim Relief dispensation are members of Coastal Links, that works in close partnership with Masifundise. Coastal Links members have lost faith in the monitoring system as they experience the flaws daily. We have studied monitoring reports, which also reveal numerous shortcomings and inaccuracies. These include double entries in reports, absence of records of lobster buyers and catches being attributed to the wrong permit holders.

Based on this flawed system, the Department suspended the rock lobster season last year and appears to be considering the same this year.

While DAFF is not acting against those who reportedly overcatch, it at the same time punishes those who have not caught their allocation yet.

Our attempts to engage DAFF on these matters have not been successful. We were left with no other option but to refer this matter to the Portfolio Committee for urgent attention.

Furthermore, we have placed this matter in the public domain since it is a matter of public interest in that the livelihoods of struggling fisher folk and the sustainability of our fishing stock are at stake.

Naseegh Jaffer, Director

Masifundise Development Trust

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