Fish situation ‘critical’ as licences are cut back, stocks fall

2014-01-18 00:00

DIMINISHING fish stocks plus a cutback in line fishing licences, are leaving fishermen in large parts of KwaZulu-Natal under real threat of losing their only livelihood.

And while they are locked in a battle of survival, the seafood outlets in Durban and Pietermaritzburg they supply, are battling with sufficient stock and even the threat of closing down.

Bobby Tularam, owner of Glen­ashley Fisheries in Durban North, who has been in the fresh fish business for 35 years, says there has been “a downward trend” in the availability of fresh fish “for many years”.

As chairperson of the Durban Commercial Fishing Club, Tularam also knows the other side of the business and has witnessed how, because of low fish stocks, fishermen “have to fish harder and travel longer distances to find fish. And there is the rising cost of fuel”.

Tularam said he had to increase prices in his shop due to the lack of fish and had also extended his business by opening a kitchen so he could sell fish-and-chips and curries. “Fish is so scarce you can’t depend on just fish to run a business.”

Next week Tularam will visit Cape Town looking for alternative sources for fresh fish.

Tularam said the recent reduction in line fishing licences had had an additional negative impact on the fresh fish business. He was critical of the withdrawal of licences from experienced fishermen and their issuing to those without experience. “It’s a tough business,” he said. “You have to know what you are doing and if you haven’t done it before to enter the industry now, you are wasting your time.”

There are “definitely less fish” says Farook Sheriff, owner of Mountain Rise Seafood in Pietermaritzburg, who has been in business for 35 years. “We have really been feeling the crunch for the last four or five years.”

Sheriff has had to put up prices and find other ways of sourcing fresh fish. “It’s a mission,” he said. “It’s getting worse, the fish situation is critical.”

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