Small-scale fishermen may catch new species


By Liezl Human, GroundUp

Small-scale fishermen in the Western Cape may soon be allowed to catch new species.

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment is currently finalizing policy for the small-scale fishing sector in the Western Cape and apparently welcomes any proposals to increase the variety of permitted species.

Species currently allocated to small-scale fishing cooperatives include stage squid, West Coast lobster, seaweed, handline hake, linefish, oysters and white clam.

Abongile Ngqongwa, deputy director of small-scale fisheries management, told parliament on Tuesday that small-scale fishing cooperatives must be sustainable.

According to Ngqongwa, most resources have decreased. The department’s objective is now to ensure that the fishermen are supported and that small-scale fishing cooperatives in the Western Cape are “operational”.

Some species are planned to be shared with the commercial sector. “It will (however) have to be a fair process moving forward,” said Ngqongwa.

A total of 62 small-scale fishing cooperatives in the Western Cape have so far been registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.

So-called 15-year fishing rights were also finally awarded in November to around 3,850 small-scale fishermen in the Western Cape.

The finalization of these rights was delayed for several years after the 2016-19 rights award was set aside and the process started from scratch. Rights have already been awarded to fishermen and cooperatives in the Northern and Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

For her part, Sue Middleton, deputy director-general of fisheries management, told parliament that the department is setting up a three-year program of mentors to support co-operatives with business and financial management.

DA MP Hannah Shameema Winkler asked what the department had learned from its flawed process for granting fishing rights.

RNews recently reported that dozens of companies are dragging the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs to court after these companies’ application for commercial fishing rights was rejected.

In response, Middleton said the process “does not reflect favorably on the department that we continually have to endure these massive challenges when it comes to granting fishing rights”.

EFF MP Nazier Paulsen said in parliament that it is important that mentors assist the cooperatives because the management of the cooperatives will be “complex”.

This post is originally on GroundUp posted and used with permission.