Creecy wants courts to clear red tape over Western Cape fishing rights applications

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Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy.
Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy.
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  • Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy plans to go to court to review and have set aside the process of awarding small-scale fishing rights in the Western Cape.  
  • This follows multiple complaints from community members about the fairness and accuracy of the process, during a verification exercise. 
  • Creecy will seek the review of the entire process of those who originally applied, for all Western Cape communities. 

Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy plans to go to court to review and have set aside the process of awarding small-scale fishing rights in the Western Cape.  

Her spokesperson Albi Modise said this follows multiple complaints from community members about the fairness and accuracy of the process, during a verification exercise. 

Creecy will seek the review of the entire process of those who originally applied, for all Western Cape communities. 

The department said among the errors identified were inaccurate capturing of information and the incorrect adjudication of applications by community panels.  

READ | Fishing finally allowed again under lockdown Level 3

There was also allegedly inconsistent application of criteria between communities, an incorrect and incoherent application and appeals process; and, incomplete and inaccurate data, including lost applications. 

"Should the court application be successful, originally registered individuals will have an opportunity to submit new information to support their original applications and thus ensure a process that is applied fairly and consistently to all communities," Modise said. 

The department said it would bring the application as quickly as possible to minimise the impact on fishing communities in the province.

Verification

It would also prioritise the new verification process and conduct it as swiftly as possible.  

The court application would request to maintain the current dispensation of providing access to fishing by fishing communities," he said. 

Modise explained that the internal audit process was launched in 2019, and concluded that the verification process was "wholly inadequate", and that the results of these assessments could not and should not be relied on for decision making in terms of the regulations. 

Objection

"While the minister understands that there are some communities who have no objection to the outcome of the verification process, these could not be singled out for different treatment given that the problems with the process are widespread [so] that the only available option is to review the process for all communities in the Western Cape," he said. 

The court application could delay the granting of rights for these communities for at least another year, but the department thinks that not doing so is potentially more disastrous.

According to a presentation to Parliament last year, of the 22 600 who applied for small-scale fishing rights, 43% were successful.

Small-scale fishers are fishers who meet their food and basic livelihood needs, or are directly involved in harvesting or processing of fish. They use low technology and usually take one day trips and then sell or barter their catch.

Modise said on Monday the application had not been filed yet.

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