Should landlubbers get fishing rights?

2015-07-08 17:37
Patrick Burnett / WCN

Patrick Burnett / WCN

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Cape Town - The question of whether somebody would be given fishing rights if they had never seen the sea, was raised during public consultations for the 2015/16 allocation process in Cape Town on Wednesday.

“Prior to previous allocations, people who had no idea what the sea looked like were allocated fishing rights. Is this the policy still?” 57-year-old fisherman Paul Thomas asked officials at a meeting in Sea Point.

He wanted to know whether anybody could apply or whether it would be confined to people who had been in the fishing industry all their lives.

Department officials are visiting provinces for consultation on 10 sector policies and a policy on fish processing, as well as draft application forms and applicable fees.

The drafts were published last month and are up for comment before being finalised. The department had applied for an extension of the public comment period until August 13.

Unconstitutional

Fisheries Operations chief director Sue Middleton responded to Thomas, saying it would be unconstitutional for the department to prevent anybody from applying.

"However, when we go through the forms, you will see that experience and investment and previous history count.”

She said a controversial area was achieving a balance between current rights holders and new entrants.

“It’s a well-known phenomenon that the fishing sector is aging and you have got to have a process where you let young people in. We would welcome comment in that regard.”

Thomas, who is a crew member and skipper of a fishing boat in Kalk Bay, told News24 after the meeting that it was very frustrating to see that rights were allocated to people like teachers and housewives.

“They sit back and reap the benefits, whereas the rights of the guys who are active in the industry are forestalled.

“You get people who have been crew members their whole lives and they work until they are at a pensionable age and end up with nothing." 

Monopolies

Thomas entered the fishing industry out of school, aged 19. He recalls that it was common to see fishermen walk away with just R13 a day if the weather was against them.

During the presentation in a room about a third full on Wednesday, it was stated that only South Africans could apply and that rights would be given for a maximum of 15 years. National demographics would be taken into account.

The department said it did not want to “butter two sides of the same bread roll instead of buttering two rolls” and would guard against monopolies, those within the same household, umbrella companies, subsidiaries, and brother-sister corporations - two or more corporations owned by five or fewer people.

The results of the application process would be announced in February next year, with time set aside afterwards for appeals.

A third consultation meeting meeting will be held at the same venue on Thursday, with Port Nolloth, Hondeklipbaai and Doring Bay their next ports of call on Monday.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fishing

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