The dispute around access to fishing Zone B of the Langebaan Lagoon is still ongoing.

Traditional fishers headed for court earlier this year as part of their efforts to change their current fishing conditions. They are restricted to fishing in Zone A, which makes it difficult for them to have sustainable livelihoods.

Recenly the Legal Resources Centre lawyers obtained a court order forcing the Minister to file a record of her decision to keep the fishers out of Zone B which she then did. LRC are currently preparing supplementary papers to respond to the trecord.

In January this year, the trek-net fishers of Langebaan went to court to assert their right to earn sustainable livelihoods.

Net fishers, through their organisation, Coastal Links South Africa lodged a court case against the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Department of Environmental Affairs, South African National Parks and the West Coast National Park in defence of their livelihoods.

The aim for the court case was to persuade these government departments and agencies to set aside certain conditions restricting fishers to only catch fish in Zone A of the Langebaan Lagoon.

For the last fifty years the survival of the Langebaan netfishers have come under increased pressure, due to the government, both local and national having decided that the Langebaan Lagoon is a good tourist attraction.

It has been marketed as such, development to accommodate tourists and holiday makers has sprung up all over Langebaan, and, today the tourist industry is booming.

This was done at the expense of the small-scale net fishing community of Langebaan, who have to compete with all these holiday makers when they have to go out and catch fish.

All these activities scare away the fish, and the holiday makers get in the way of the fishers and their nets, reducing their daily catch considerably and causing considerable financial losses in the braking of their nets.

On top of that, the government departments and agencies is upholding certain conditions which restrict the Langebaan traditional fishers to only catch their fish in a certain area in the lagoon, where they have to compete with the holiday makers for space, and where the harders, the fish species they catch are not as plentiful.

This threatens their ability to earn a sustainable livelihood on a daily basis.

The lagoon has been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA), which has its aim to restrict certain activities to protect the marine life in the lagoon, and it has been divided into three Zones, namely Zone A, B and C.

Zone C is a complete no take zone, which means that no-one is allowed to catch fish in Zone C, it is also an area which is reserved for breeding and replenishment of the fish stock.

The traditional net-fishers have been restricted to only catch fish in Zone A, but, a few white fishers, due to an agreement they signed with the Parks Board during the last years of apartheid, are allowed to fish in Zone B.

Traditional fishers of Langebaan would prefer that they be allowed to fish in Zone B, since there is a larger stock of harders, and because they do not target fish that is in need of protection that is found in Zone B, as the recreational fishers does.

Traditional fishers have waged a protracted struggle to have their rights to fish in Zone B restored, because at the moment they must compete with recreational fishers, kite flyers, scuba divers and the general holiday maker in Zone A.


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