On 4 October, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) convened a meeting with community-based organisations (CBO) for an update on the Small-scale Fisheries (SSF) Policy implementation process in the Western Cape.
As of March this year, 84% of small-scale fishers in the province have successfully completed the process. Communities have undergone cooperative training and registration, with rights soon to be granted.
A concern of small-scale fishers is that rights will be granted before appeal outcomes. This means, the cooperative might obtain the permit while those who appealed will be excluded for a period of time.
The department acknowledged the concern but cannot guarantee timely resolution before rights allocation.
The department also addressed the issue around successful applicants not appearing on the list of fishers included in the CIPC certificate. They explained that this is due to an administration error. However, all bona fide fishers who attended the trainings will be included in the cooperatives, even if their names are not currently on the CIPC list.
Rovina Europa, Coastal links leader in Arniston shared her challenge around the basket of species that is yet to be announced, “The season will begin very soon and the fishers have a lot of uncertainty around the basket of species and whether it will be sustainable for cooperatives to function successfully. You can’t start a business if you don’t know how much products you going to sell and when. We hope the department will respond to the request very soon.”
The range of species in the basket is determined by the requests put forth by the cooperatives. DFFE shared that they can only accommodate species that align with the regulations for SSF sector.
The Total Allowable Effort (TAE) for Traditional line fish and the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL) are being finalised and the department confirmed that the allocations will be announced in this month. Once this is done, cooperatives will be able to apply for permits.
Currently, 62 cooperatives have been formed as of the end of October. The department emphasized that there will not be another interim relief.
Cooperatives and the allocation of fishing rights in the Western Cape will be completed in time for the next fishing season.