By Rovina Europa (Community elected representative of the Arniston Fishers)
Christian Adams (Chairperson, Coastal Links South Africa)
“It is very difficult for us to understand the state of affairs that is currently prevailing in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), and the behaviour of constant lies and a complete disregard of undertakings.” (Anthony Engel – Small Scale Fisher from Arniston)
Anthony Engels’ views reflect those of many fishers in Arniston and beyond.
As Arniston Small Scale Fishers under the Interim Relief (IR) system, we are angry at DAFF and its officials for violating the human rights of fishers from our coastal town as well as those from surrounding areas such as Struisbaai and Pearly Beach and several towns on the West Coast of the Western Cape.
49 Fishers from Arniston, Struisbaai and Pearly Beach have not been beneficiaries of the flawed Interim Relief (IR) system since IR8 in regards to West Coast Lobster specifically. Some have been removed without their knowledge and others have documents from the Minister stating that they will be beneficiaries but then did not appear on any list of beneficiaries under the IR system. There are a number of non-deserving fishers on the IR list, with no history in the sector.
The processes followed are clearly irregular and corrupt. The 49 fishers and others from across the province are demanding answers and action from DAFF.
After countless marches, protests, letters, emails, telephone calls, faxes and press releases through the media, the DAFF is yet to respond to the justifiable concerns of the fishers. On 27 November 2014, the fishers from these towns were supported by fishers from across the province and from as far as Port Nolloth, in a protest march and the occupation of the DAFF offices, as well as the handover of a memorandum. During this occupation a delegation of fishers met with high level officials of the DAFF. It was at this meeting that the DAFF agreed to put the fishers back on the respective lists from the affected towns. It is now a whole year later and DAFF continues to renege on its undertaking.
Now, with the imminent implementation of the Small Scale Fisheries Policy Government Gazette # 35455, these fishers fear that they will be left out of that process as well due to the manner in which the DAFF has treated them in the flawed and highly irregular Interim Relief system. That will have a devastating effect on the lives of these fishers and could mean a continuation of outright violation of their human rights.
We call on the DAFF yet again to take this opportunity to rectify these self-confessed flaws that they committed in several communities by denouncing the ill-fated co-management structures as null and void. We call on the DAFF to immediately restore these 49 fishers to their respective towns’ Interim Relief Lists.
We have relayed these views to DAFF this week and have given them seven days to respond to the communication.
Issued by Masifundise Development Trust Communication Unit for Masifundise Development Trust and Coastal Links South Africa.
If you would like more information on these issues and would like to conduct interviews, invite the two organisations for discussions, do contact the MDT Communication Unit:
Contact Person: Mansoor Jaffer or Nosipho Singiswa
Tel: 021 6854549