Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana has instructed his department’s senior officials to fast-track the process of fishing rights allocation to small scale fisheries and communities in the four coastal provinces.
Zokwana said the impediments in the West Coast Rock Lobster Fishing Rights Allocation Process (WCRL/FRAP) was due to “tip-offs” from communities about many fishermen, who were to be allocated fishing rights, but were being used as fronts by big established companies.
“An appeal process has to be put in place to deal with these [claims] so that we empower the real previously disadvantaged communities, and not the big players through the backdoor. I have directed that such an appeal process be finalised by 31 August 2018,” Zokwana said.
The WCRL season commences on 1 December. The three other coastal provinces, including Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, will allocate rights to small scale fisheries from the beginning of September.
Consistent with the Marine Living Resources Act, Zokwana said he was committed to fast tracking the entry of fishermen, who were previously disadvantaged in the fishing sector.
“I want to see diversification and new enterprises emerging from the previously disadvantaged players. Marine resources harvesting cannot be an exclusive reserve of a few big companies. Government, as the custodian of marine life and oceans, has a moral obligation to change the status quo,” the Minister said.
Condolences to family of drowned fisherman
Meanwhile, Zokwana has conveyed condolences to the family of a fisherman, who drowned during the unrest in Hout Bay harbour.
The violent protests followed an anti-poaching operation conducted by the South African Police Service (SAPS) Task Force on Friday last week.
“I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy to the family of the fisherman. Police, who specialise in body search in waters, are still looking for the body, and my department is in constant communication with them,” Zokwana said.
Zokwana said at an appropriate time, he intends to visit the family and expresses government’s sympathy.