On 15 March the Department suspended all catching of west coast rock lobster under Interim Relief 6. They did so because there is overwhelming evidence to show that some people are abusing the system. There are also reports that the permit conditions are not being followed. This has placed the lobster resource under pressure as the TAC for this sector has already been over caught.

The following are just some of the problems that are occurring:

  • Many fishers are not going to sea themselves. Their lobster allocation is being caught by others with or without their knowledge
  • Many IR6 permits are being used in areas where it has not been allocated for
  • A number of people who do not meet the criteria have irregularly been given permits
  • Many fishers appear to have exceeded the total amount that they are allowed to catch for the season
  • Monitoring records are incomplete, inaccurate or forged
  • Many monitors turn a blind eye to illegal catches and landings
  • Often monitors and marketers act  in cahoots with each other thus leading to corruption in the system
  • Many marketers act as if they have complete control over fishers and monitors which leads to more corruption
  • Some companies, marketers and their agents are trying to market lobsters using information and records that are inaccurate or forged.
  • No co-management committees are functioning in fishing areas where IR6 permits have been issued

All of this has become clear from reports told by fishers, observers and meetings held with different role players.  In the light of all of this DAFF felt that they had little option but to suspend catching lobster under IR6. Many role players have supported this step and have called on DAFF to urgently investigate ways of resolving the problems so that lobster fishing can resume before the season closes.

In the meantime IR6 exemption permit holders may continue to catch line-fish even though crayfish catching is suspended.

Comments from fishers about the suspension

Solene Smith – Langebaan

‘I support the suspension, we have to accept and admit that we have failed to stick by the rules. We are going to deplete the resource if we don’t stop. Leaders must start to look at other species as well, and not only rely on the crayfish. We must also report those in Government who have also given out permits to those who are not fishers’.

Mary Hull  – Kleinmond

‘We are disappointed. How can DAFF suspend it without giving the fishers some kind of notice.

What about the South Coast, why must the innocent suffer? The monitors on the South Coast were trained by MDT through the Youth programme, they know what to do, the West Coast monitors should undergo the same training.

Neville Luyt – Steenberg’s Cove

Is this Interim Relief? I can see that fishers are prospering out of IR. Some fishers are guilty, but DAFF also has a responsibility to put systems in place. We are sitting with too much Crayfish fishers. If we look carefully, we’ll find that there are very few fishers who are interested in crayfish and linefish. We need to start distinguishing between the kinds of fishers we have”

Beware of unscrupulous marketers!!!

Many marketers are interested only to get the crayfish from fishers in order to make money. They have no regard for the needs of fishers and their responsibility to take care of their families. Many of them provide a “voorskot” then lock fishers into agreements that are unfair and unreasonable.  They use others from within our communities to do their dirty work. Permit holders must think carefully before entering into agreements with marketers. It does not matter how pressing your needs are – think twice over before you agree. Otherwise you will be exploited. Marketers have nothing to lose. YOU can lose your permit – look after it. So be informed, be careful and beware!!

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