Bona fide Arniston Fishers who were removed from the Arniston Permit list say they will go to court if it is the last thing they have to do to resolve the Arniston IR permit problems.
Arniston have been faced with permit woes since 2013, when line fishers who were part of the Arniston IR list were removed and replaced with non-fishers.
From 2006 until 2013, the community of Arniston was at peace, until the West Coast Rock Lobster was introduced in their interim package.
“Since West Coast Rock Lobster became available in the area in 2014, non-fishers have become interested in becoming part of the IR permit” Anthony Engel a bona fide fisher from Arniston lamented.
“Unlike with the Line fish Permit, with the WCRL, you do not have to go sea, so this means you can be part of the IR system without even being a real fisher,” he continued.
In 2013, Coastal Links South Africa, representing over 4 000 small-scale fishers in South Africa negotiated for 20 WCRL permits to be allocated in the area due to the scarcity of line fish.
Lists were agreed upon, through discussion, and included bona fide fishers who relied on the ocean for subsistence. At the commencement of the crayfish season in November 2014, new lists appeared out of nowhere that included a number of undeserving beneficiaries.
The fishers and community have been reporting this matter to DAFF on numerous occasions, but no sound explanation can be given to the community as to how this change happened.
“In 2014, we received an official letter from DAFF with our names on the list and few days later the list had been changed and DAFF could not give us answers as to why and how this happened” commented John Grandfield a line fisher from Struisbaai.
In a memorandum that CLSA delivered to DAFF in November 2014, an official list that was signed by the minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 2013 was also presented to DAFF officials. This list had mysteriously changed when rights were allocated by officials. The department promised to correct this but this has not happened.
Masifundise met with DAFF officials last week who promised to solve the issue and giving feedback to the community and Masifundise by this week.
Responding to DAFF’s view that fishers, CLSA and MDT should also take some responsibility for the crisis, CLSA chairperson Christian Adams said;
“Yes, grassroots organisations have a responsibility to ensure that members of its organisations work together, but they cannot be blamed for the mismanagement of the department and political influences that the department’s officials are subjected to”.
It is now four Months into the 2014/15 fishing season and fishers in Arniston are yet to receive their fishing permits as a result the bona fide fishers of Arniston who have been unfairly excluded in the IR List have had enough and are ready to take the department to court.
“DAFF has handled the matter poorly and we have given them numerous chances to solve the matter” said Mr Felix, a line fisher in Arniston.
“The bona fide fishers who have been on the list since 2006, must return to the list, or else we will take the department to court, this is our bread and no government official has a right to take my food away from me”.