Fisherfolk allege quota inequality

2016-11-24 06:02
  Members of Small Scale Fishing Community toy-toyed inside the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (Daff) offices last week.  PHOTO: martha qumba

Members of Small Scale Fishing Community toy-toyed inside the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (Daff) offices last week. PHOTO: martha qumba

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Disgruntled fisherfolk held a protest outside the offices of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (Daff) offices last week.

They are members of the Small Scale Fishing Community, who were protesting against the non-granting of fishing quotas.

They said they filled in some fishing license forms at the Daff offices a month ago and when they went to collect them, were instead informed to fill in appeal forms first.

Fisherwoman Fannie Kewana, said they were angry because Daff is talking another language and making things difficult for them.

“I don’t understand this appeal(process)... How do you appeal without seeing a letter(informing of your failure to acquire the licence first).

What do you appeal for. There’s a list of people who received licences; our names are not there.

Kewana said out of 205 applications, only five people have received licenses.

He alleged that the majority of recipients were all the big White companies.

“The government keeps on giving fishing licenses to the Whites... we want to do fishing because there’s wealth in it.

Why should certain people benefit because they’re White. It’s not fair,” she said.

Siphiwo Ronnie Mbele from Langa Small Scale Farmers added that they’ve been fighting with the government for a long time.

“This year we went to parliament and submitted our demands as communities. As communities we demanded fishing rights. We’ve been coming here for a long time but there has been nothing tangible in return. It’s frustrating,” he says.

Maxwell Ngubeni believed there’s no transparency in the process because some were chosen over others.

He further said that in 2012 they went to court and the ruled in their favour, however the government never considered that.

The majority of them felt that the government is fooling them and reluctant to issue them fishing licenses because they are Black and poor.

Women who are the majority in their organization accused the government of not being serious about the issue of transformation.

Lindiwe Sihawu from the Agiyonke Fishing Company based in Gugulethu agreed that women are the majority because they are the backbone of the society.

“I got involved in fishing because it’s economically viable. I want to import fish and also to know how to manage my business. The government wants us to suffer.”

Another woman who refused to be identified also said they are hungry, and also accused the government of not respecting them.

Yonga Booi, the Small Scale Fishing Community Chairperson said people applied for fishing rights and their applications were rejected.

“I feel our rights are violated and they gave our fish to the big companies. They always tells about inadequate resources while they gave 8000 tons of horse mackerel to Buyambo Global Trading, a White owned company.

They always tell us there’s not enough fish, while the White companies are catching fish.

The intention of the department is to delay the process. The season started on 15 November and we are going to have a black Christmas because we don’t have fishing rights.

There were 230 applicants but only 25 were successful and it’s an insult for our communities,” he says.

He said every person should have access to marine rights and resources.

Craig Smith, Director of Small Scale Fisheries Management, said applicants who did not meet the prescribed fishing criteria and that are unsuccessful in their applications to be recognised as a small-scale fishermen, were given an opportunity to appeal the decision within 30 days and to give further information in support of their application.

“I think communities are confusing what their leaders promise them and not what the department says. The whole process of implementing the small-scale fishery process is prescribed in law. We can’t deviate from that,” he said.

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