The first list of verified fishers have been released by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) on August 26, and on all accounts it seemed not have been favourable towards hundreds of fishers from the Northern Cape towns of Port Nolloth and Hondeklip Bay.
Walter Steenkamp, a fisher in Port Nolloth and a National Executive Committee (NEC) member of Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA), said that although he have been successfully verified by DAFF, he and others successfully verified, feels that the list published by DAFF is deeply flawed.
“Of all the people who registered in Port Nolloth, well over 150 people, only two people were not deemed to be bona-fide fishers by the fishing community panel that was set up by DAFF,” said Steenkamp.
In Port Nolloth, DAFF only accredited 42 as bona fide fishers, but Steenkamp disputes this, saying for instance that already there were 78 people on Interim Relief (IR), and that only a few of these IR rights holders were included in the list of 42.
“Of the 42 people, only two were women, 10 were West Coast Rock Lobster near-shore rights holders, there are no youth”.
“As a community, we have decided to appeal against the list published by DAFF, and Coastal Links Northern Cape lodged an appeal letter against the process”.
Steenkamp said that people’s details on the published lists were incorrect, like ID numbers and other details.
“Fishermen, who have been fishing for longer than 20 years have now been told by DAFF that they are not fishers”.
Walters also question the DAFF’s commitment to the empowerment of women and youth in the small-scale fisheries policy (SSFP), since only two women were included in the list and no youth were included.
Since the list was published on August 26, the excluded fishers had 30 days, which ended on September 26, in which to appeal their exclusions.
In Hondeklip Bay, the other fishing town in the Northern Cape, 172 fishers registered for the SSFP, but only 27 were approved by DAFF, according to Andries Klaase, a fisher from Hondeklip Bay.
“Hondeklip Bay used to have 36 people on IR, but now we have only 27 bona-fide fishers in our town,” said Klaase.
“We were excluded for the same reason as in Port Nolloth, but on the DAFF verified list of 27, there are only two women fishers, some inactive fishers, skippers, pensioners and factory workers.”
I have no hope for the future, I have been excluded, I have no trust in the process, DAFF is walking all over us and only do as they please,” Klaase concluded.
So, apart from the appeal from CLSA, they had to organise the excluded fishers and get them to lodge individual appeals.
“With the help from CLSA and Masifundise we managed to successfully lodge appeals against the exclusion of the fishers in our communities by September 26”.
Steenkamp said they had to do the following:
Fishers had to prove that they were involved in fishing, since most fishers were disqualified in that DAFF said that they did not have more than ‘10 years of fishing experience’ and that they are not ‘dependent on fishing for their livelihoods’.
Fishers had to provide documentation showing:
- Their jobs in fishing – skipper, rower, etc.
- Fishing Permits – permits showing that they were fishers, either recreational or IR permits
- Receipts showing the selling of fish – get from marketers and other buyers
- Summary of species caught over the years-
- Short summary of activities in fishing
All these documents have to be certified by a commissioner of oaths.
Steenkamp is also concerned that what DAFF are doing can create divisions in fishing communities, turning those who were not approved against those who were approved.
“Already people are pointing fingers at us, especially the leadership who are on the list, as having manipulated the process to get us on the list and to have others excluded, this is not the case at all”.
“I would like to appeal to fishers in communities to not allow the publication of their lists to cause divisions in the community. Please remember it is DAFF that decided to exclude fishers, and not other fishers in your community.”