In South Africa, West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL) is a scarce entity and so you will find commercial entities, subsistence and recreational fishers all competing for access to it.
In fishing communities WCRL with other species is supposed to be a means of survival and a modest source of income for those who engage in subsistence fishing.
In communities like Arniston, Pearly Beach and Struuisbaai in the Western Cape, communities are currently facing a dilemma of having non fishers as part of their communal permits.
This is because the WCRL generates more income than other species. In one season a person could generate between R18 000 and R25000 for about 160 – 200 kilos. This is a small amount considering that a season lasts about 6 months and at times weather conditions are not favourable for fishers to go to sea, but this does not deter some community members who are looking to profit from the industry.
“Everyone is fighting for the WCRL because they do not have to physically get their hands wet,” said Anthony Engel from Arniston.
The fishing permit for WCRL does not require one to go to sea. Unlike Line Fish which can only be caught by a true fisher, the WCRL can be harvested by anyone. So instead of deserving bona fide fisherman receiving permits, one will find a person with a stable income being part of a permit list.
This means that an individual, fisher or non- fisher receives a WCRL quota then hands it to someone else and in return, the permit owner just collects a pay-out for what was caught for him/her by those who actually go to sea.
Could the permit conditions for WCRL be robbing real fishers out of an income?