Four Months into the 2014/15 fishing season and fishers in Arniston are yet to receive their fishing permits. Fishers from the area have been told that their permits are due to be issued and this comes with information that they also have a new representative that they do not know about.
In a media release issued by Coastal Links in 2014 – fishers from Struuisbaai, Pearly beach and Arniston were at loggerheads with the department regarding the flawed allocation of lobster permits issued in these areas.
They had urged that the Department of fisheries urgently investigate this allocation and take corrective action, then they did not know that four months into the 2014/15 fishing season, Arniston will be sitting without a permit.
“This really is upsetting the fishers, who fought and went to marches so that they can get the interim relief,” said Rowina Marthinus CLSA representative in Arniston.
To make matters worse, bona fide fishers of Arniston who were part of the IR lists since 2007 were taken off the list and replaced with commercial fishers (who have long term fishing rights).
In a community meeting (which Masifundise attended) held by DAFF in Arniston last year, a DAFF official told the fishers who were currently under the commercial long term rights, that they could deregister from the commercial system to have their name on the IR list. This caused an uproar with the original IR members resulting in them leaving the meeting not satisfied.
“DAFF should not employ officials that do not know the history of how the IR came about,” said John Europa of Coastal Links. “These officials send out the wrong message to fishers and thus cause community members to be in conflict with each other” he continued.
“The fishers in Arniston have many questions,” said Michelle Joshua, Masifundise’s field worker in the Overberg.
On top of this, talks amongst Arniston fishers regarding DAFF electing a new community representative of which they do not know about, is also tearing the community apart.
“The festive season has come and gone, schools have reopened and the fishers need an income. DAFF’s silence is unacceptable” continued Michelle.
The Overberg region, not the only region that has been riddled with many IR permit issues, has been torn apart because of the IR permit system. Families are turning against each other and fishers are forced to get into debt due to a lack of income.
This state of affairs must be urgently addressed.