SMALL SCALE fishers from Langebaan are heading to the Cape High Court on Thursday June 9, 2016, to secure the rights to fish in a section of the Lagoon.
This matter has been pending since July 2013 when the fishers, represented by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), first approached the courts for relief.
The case was subsequently delayed on numerous occasions due to technicalities and the lack of readiness of government departments and agencies, which saw the Department of Environmental Affairs taking more than a year to file a record.
The fishers of Langebaan are mainly asking the courts to allow them to fish in an area in the Langebaan Lagoon, which is known as Zone B.
Their case has as its respondents the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, the Department of Environmental Affairs and SAnParks.
The fishers, in their court application ask for the court to grant them three important things in order to secure their livelihoods, namely:
1). To make a declaration that will give fishers the right to fish in Zone B.
2). To order that the fishers be consulted if any conditions are made for fishing Zone B.
3) imp source. The decision to impose the Langebaan net fishers permit conditions to be set aside.
In court papers, Langebaan fishers have recorded how their parents and forefathers used to fish in the Langebaan Lagoon, with no restrictions, and that they themselves have learned their trades from their parents.
They believe that fishing in the Langebaan Lagoon is their right, and that the court has unfairly discriminated on them, thus giving more favour and access to church haven and recreational fishers.
Although the Langebaan fishers are prohibited, and many of their members have been caught for fishing in Zone B, three white commercial fishers are allowed to fish in Zone B.
This and a range of other issues, including how recreational fishers are favoured above them, the fishers feel smack of discrimination, and disadvantage them, which in the end forced them to bring this case to court.
Solene Smith, chairperson on the Coastal Links Langebaan Branch said that she is happy how the preparations are going to get the fishers ready to present their case in court, and that fishers and others must come to the court to show their solidarity with the Langebaan Fishers.