Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana has approved a request by interim relief fishers to grant them access to a portion of the 140 tonne West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL) offshore allocation apportioned to the small-scale fishing sector for the 2018/2019 fishing season.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) said in a statement on Friday that the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 1 084 tonnes that has been determined for the 2018/19 fishing season, is a 43.6% reduction when compared to the TAC of 1 924.08 tonnes determined for the 2017/18 fishing season.
Interim Relief fishers were unhappy about the reduced allocation and they appealed to the minister, citing that the cuts will have devastating socio-economic effects in their communities with about 2 000 Interim Relief fishers.
The DAFF said in a statement on Friday that the minister's approval is based on the fact that the delegated authority will not be in a position to allocate small-scale fishing rights in the Western Cape within the WCRL offshore fishing season as the department is still in the process of registering small-scale fishing co-operatives to be allocated small-scale fishing rights.
This means that the WCRL offshore allocation apportioned to the small-scale fishing sector may not be utilised by small-scale fishers in the Western Cape for this current season.
"Secondly, the minister is fully aware of the socio-economic implications that the TAC cuts will have in the fishing sector broadly and in Interim Relief communities specifically. This is one of the reasons why the minister has decided to appeal the court judgement in the case between DAFF and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)," said the DAFF.