All fishing rights lapse next week

2013-12-27 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Eight years of bureaucratic delays mean that skippers may not cast their nets to commercially fish prawns off the KwaZulu-Natal shores from Wednesday, January 1, 2014.

Fishing rights for prawns and seven other sectors were to have been awarded in September, but a final decision has since been postponed several times.

The nett result is that all fishing rights in eight fishing sectors will lapse on December 31.

The eight fishing sectors affected are:

• KwaZulu-Natal prawns;

• commercial shark fishing;

• tuna angling and line-fish;

• squid;

• hand-line hake;

• oysters;

• mussels; and

• traditional line-fish.

In total, some 8 000 people depend on fishing as an income in the eight sectors and almost as many jobs on land will be affected by the rights lapsing. While the uncertainty affects hundreds of professional and recreational fishermen in KZN, most of the potential job losses will be in the West Coast, in Cape Town and in Port Elizabeth.

Greg Christy of the South African Squid Management Industrial Association yesterday said it would be “absolutely criminal” if skippers must dock their boats and be prevented from catching chokka [squid] from January 1, adding that squid boats caught almost half of the year’s catch during December and January.

Spokesperson for Department of Fisheries Alieya Haider officials were working through December to ensure that the rights are allocated in time. However, by yesterday none of the commercial fishing organisations and associations contacted by sister paper Die Burger had received any updates from the department. A media statement is expected on Monday.

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