Opinion by

Gary Simpson

When one big fishing company employing at best 250 workers in the West Coast Rock Lobster Sector is recipient of 238 ton of WCRL and 2 200 Small Scale WCRL fishers, collectively, are recipients of only 235 ton its clear that a radically inequitable balance in the allocation and distribution of WCRL fishing rights exists. Moreover, the same company enjoys tremendous fishing rights in other Commercial Fishery Sectors that annually generate Billions of Rands .

The Draft Sector-Specific Commercial WCRL Offshore and Nearshore fishing right allocation policies and official Fishing Rights Allocation Process 2015/16 documentation being put out by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries appears to perpetuate the inequitable distribution of the WCRL Total Allowable Catch up to and including the 2030/31 WCRL fishing season – the period for ‘Comments on Policy’ expired on the 17 of August.

Let us not then be misled into believing things are changing for the better when they are not…

It is therefore apt, as suggested, that those who are materially most significantly responsible for decimating the sustainable status of the WCRL resource from pristine to just 2.6% should as a measure of restitution bear the brunt of TAC reductions required to rebuild the sustainable status of the WCRL resource – this cannot be achieved at the expense of previously disadvantaged Small Scale Fishers who for decade upon decade have been denied equitable access to the WCRL resource and are only now, very marginally, beginning to be accommodated within the WCRL Sector

It is not the fishing effort dispensed by the hand hauled hoop-net method of capture deployed by Small Scale WCRL Fishers that is so substantially responsible for the decimation of the WCRL resource, rather it is the mechanized lobster-trap method of capture deployed by big fishing companies that is indisputably responsible for the severely depleted sustainable status of the WCRL resource Small Scale Fishers and their families are confronted with today!

Gary Simpson is a fisheries consultant and former  am a fisheries consultant Secretary of Cosatu Fishing Desk.

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