2014 was yet another year filled with suffering and disappointment for many Small-Scale fishers in the Western and Northern Cape. Interim Relief 9 permit brought more difficulties for communities. There was no change in the manner of how the process was handled by DAFF, infact matters got worse proving that it was time that the IR permit process is brought to an end.

The late issuing of permits, the inclusion of non-fishers in beneficiary lists and general mismanagement by the DAFF deprived fishers of sustainable livelihoods and caused conflict in communities.

“Interim relief permits cause various problems. It’s time for the implementation of the policy, it is time for basket rights and review of MPAs and it is time small-scale fishers are given their rights to fish,” said Norton Dowries, the vice chairperson of Coastal Links South Africa’s Langebaan branch.

“The department must identify organisations who they can discuss issues and solve these issues with, organisations like Coastal Links SA and Masifundise Development Trust,” he said.

Coastal Links and Masifundise have persistently brought areas of corruption and mismanagement in the allocation process, to the attention of DAFF officials. But nothing got done, instead calls to intervene and assist the department to manage the process better were seen as an undermining stance which aimed to cause havoc for the department.

“DAFF presented a whole set of new forms and conditions for the application of the IR9 to us, and this caused chaos. This resulted in us having to go back and forth to DAFF offices since last November. It becomes more and more complicated for the IR fishers, many don’t have the transport, the office equipment, most of the fishers just don’t have extra cash to spend like that,” lamented Hilda April, a CLSA member from Mamre.

In November 2014, more than 100 small-scale fishers from fishing communities in the Western and Northern Cape gathered at DAFF’s offices in Cape Town, Foreshore, to deliver a memorandum. The fishers demanded their rights, permits and answers regarding the IR permit and the implementation of the Policy from the department. But this bore little fruit.

From bona fide fishers being removed from list, to fishers in the West Coast receiving their permits late, the IR 9 has been a scourge for the small-scale fishing industry.

“We have stood back for way too long, we won the fight in 2006 at the Equality Court, and if we have to take legal action forcing the department to implement the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy effectively and with no further delays, we will,” commented Christian Adams, Chairperson of CLSA.

Fishers need a practical solution to the IR permit problem, and that solution is the rapid and effective implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy!


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