'Our livelihoods, traditions are under threat' - Langebaan net-fishers

2016-06-09 16:47

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town – South Africa’s only traditional fishers recognised as fully dependent on net-fishing for survival, are challenging a condition preventing them from accessing part of the Langebaan lagoon on the West Coast.

They feel their livelihoods, and age-old tradition of net-fishing in that area, are at stake.

Fishermen and residents packed the Western Cape High Court on Thursday, as Legal Resources Centre lawyers argued on their behalf.

Ministers, deputy directors general for the fisheries and environmental affairs departments, the SA National Parks (SANParks) and West Coast National Park were respondents.

The men - some commercial rights holders and others with interim relief rights - make a living by catching southern mullet, better known as "harders".

In contention was a condition in their fishing permits and exemptions that kept Zone B of the lagoon off-limits.

The zone had shallow, warm tidal flats rich in fish, according to Norton Dowries, who submitted a founding affidavit on behalf of the community.

The fisheries department did not permit them to fish there due to environmental, conservation and sustainability concerns.

The fishers challenged the scientific foundation and reliability of these concerns.

Advocate Jason Brickhill, for the applicants, raised the fact that three Churchhaven fishermen were still allowed access to Zone B because of an old agreement.

"Coloured net-fishers who depend on their livelihoods are excluded and white land owners are granted access," he told the court.

"It doesn’t matter that the indiscrimination was not malicious or intentional. The question is one of its impact."

Dowries stated they were restricted to fishing in Zone A, where they had to compete with hordes of recreational and net fishers.

Holidaymakers in that zone apparently disturbed fish and damaged their boats and nets.

Dowries believed that heavy ammunition practice at an army base chased fish out of Zone A into Zone B.

All parties agreed it was vital to keep the exclusion area, Zone C, undisturbed, because this was where many fish species bred.

SANParks’s position was that no fishing at all should be allowed in Zone B, and that Zone A should be amended to accommodate the net-fishers at the expense of recreational fishers.

The fisheries department argued that the imposed conditions protected the integrity of the unique ecosystem.
Both departments argued that there was no basis for the court action.

The argument was that the permits and exemptions had expired, and that the fishers recognised that a new rights allocation process was underway.

The applicants wanted an order setting aside the decision to impose the fishing condition. They also wanted an order for engagement between the parties to determine reasonable access to Zone B in future.

Read more on:    sanparks  |  cape town  |  labour  |  fishing

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.