West Coast Rock Lobster Season to close with immediate effect

The Rock Lobster season will be closed with immediate effect, Masifundise and CLSA representatives were told last week, at a meeting with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

Masifundise, CLSA and other stakeholders participate in a group, which looks at the status of the stock, recommends the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the year and drafts management plans for lobster.

Masifundise’s Hahn Goliath led the delegation which included CLSA members from the Western and Northern Cape (NC).

He said that the early closure of the WCRL season is a problem especially for the fishers in the Northern Cape, as fishers from this area mostly rely on harvesting the lobster.

“The WCRL is the main source of income for fishers in Port Nolloth. The closure has a negative effect as they have only harvested only 60% of their allocation for this season”, said Goliath.

The current season began on 15 November 2013 and was scheduled to end on the 30th of June 2014.

The meeting discussed the status of the WCRL in the NC and Western Cape (WC), with particular focus on Zones B and C (in Elandsbaai, St Helena Baai, Doringbaai, Ebenhaeser) and Area Eight, which is in Cape Town.

In the report, DAFF stated that due to female lobster being in berry, the 2014 season for catching the WCRL should be closed with immediate effect and no roll over and transfer of allocations will take place in the next season.

The department is also considering changing season dates; they plan to review their Operation Management Plan, which deals with opening and closure of seasons and fishing rights allocations etc, as they have noticed that through the years, there have been changes in the reproduction season of the WCRL.

“This year, the early closure of the WCRL season has resulted in less income for the fishers. In addition, DAFF issued the initial permits late. In the light of this, we have asked the department to reconsider rolling over the WCRL allocations for the next season particularly for the NC,” continued Goliath.

The meeting was held at DAFF offices, in Cape Town and was attended by members of the civil society, researchers, scientists and fishers involved in the small-scale fisheries sector. The department is yet to issue a document with the WCRL Status Report.

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