Florina Albertyn, Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA) NEC member from Hawston has said that she cannot see anything positive that came out of the meeting that Senzeni Zokwana, the minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries conduct with the community of Hawston at the Thusong Centre on Thursday, July 28.
“As far as I can see it was an ANC local government elections campaign meeting, because it was conducted by the ANC and the hall was decorated with ANC flags and posters,” said Albertyn.
“The minister explained that the commercial allocations will be made at the end of September, and soon after that the small scale fisheries sector’s allocation will be made.”
This will include all species of fish, including rock lobster, line-fish, and abalone, but Albertyn said that many had previously applied for these species on commercial permits and did not get any allocations.
“In Hawston we used to have between 20 and 30 line fish permits, but, after the last allocations were made, we only ended up with 5 to 6 permits in Hawston, and if more was allocated to Hawston after the appeals, I am not sure.”
In 2013 the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) made line-fish allocations, which excluded a number of previous rights holders, who either did not exercise their rights, some who were disqualified for other reasons, and as DAFF argued at the time, they were setting some of the permits aside for the small scale fishers, when the SSF policy will get implemented.
Some rights holders took DAFF to court, and it was decided that the minister will relook at the allocations; he did and published a list successful appeals, people who appealed their exclusion.
“The minister also indicated at the meeting that in future DAFF will not be making use of the scientists who has been doing research for the department, but he did not indicate if the department will be making use of indigenous knowledge to help make decisions in future.”
Over the years, it has been noticed amongst the fishers in Hawston that their allocations are getting smaller, while their levies and taxes remain the same.
For instance, Albertyn explained that whereas fishers used to get up to 1 ton of rock lobster, most of them are now only getting 300kgs and more per year.
She felt that the minister did not touch on this issue, and instead after being asked, only mentioned that DAFF will start to investigate the books of the bigger companies, and if any impropriety is discovered, that their allocations will be taken away, and given to small scale commercial fishers.
Albertyn said that she did not believe this as it is unlikely to happen and that it never happened before.
The minister also told the community that they should look at freshwater fishing and aquaculture, but Albertyn said that such a project was started in Hawston previously, that only the politically connected benefited from it and the project did not get off the ground yet.
Albertyn feels that the minister’s speech that he made was like an old speech that was made previously, and that she does not expect anything positive to come from it.