Gates open for fishing

2013-08-26 00:00

SUBSISTENCE fishermen had something to smile about yesterday when the Durban Harbour opened for them after a very long battle with Transnet.

Transnet barred fishing on the harbour’s north and south piers in part during expansion work and for security reasons in 2006.

But even after the construction was completed, the fishermen were barred from returning to the harbour.

However, yesterday they flocked back to the harbour, armed with their fishing rods, ready to fish.

The fishermen signed up for their fishing permits at the official launch, while others baited up for the first time in many years.

There was a sigh of relief as many of the men and women will now be able to put food on their tables.

KwaZulu-Natal Subsistence Fishermen Forum chairperson Essop Mohamed said he was very satisfied.

“Today is the day for me. August 25 is a day I’ll remember for a long time,” Mohamed told The Witness.

The 75-year-old said he was heartbroken when his childhood hobby of fishing was suddenly snatched away from him. But he is now a happy man.

Mohamed said he was happy with the designated harbour side of the southern breakwater where they are now meant to fish.

“The harbour is quite busy nowadays and we didn’t want to demand to go fish in the operational area. But I’m feeling very satisfied.”

The forum has been through the sweat, petitions, street protests and various discussions that have lasted for years.

But the battle has been worth it because Mohamed said they were fighting for the rights of the poor fishermen whose only source of living is fishing.

“It was a long battle. But after all that, it’s now smooth sailing and people are very happy. We took on the giant and the Goliaths,” Mohamed said.

The harbour was the best place to catch fish in the country and very productive, he said.

Harbour master Dennis Mqadi said they feel at peace and are hoping that the fishermen will enjoy the harbour once again.

He said they were determined to strengthen and continue their relationship with not only the fishermen but with the greater community because the port was a good resource for society. Meanwhile, they will keep tabs to ensure all fishermen have permits and stick to their stipulated conduct.

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