Submissions for written comments on the draft small-scale fishing policy closed on Friday, 05 November 2010. Masifundise and Coastal Links made individual submissions in this regard and both organisations welcomed the Draft Policy as it contained all the key principles as proposed by them during policy drafting process.
Subsequent to submission of written comments the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) convened a meeting with all the stakeholders and this meeting will serve as a platform for any additional submissions that stakeholders may v on the draft policy. Convening this final meeting would be consistent with the Equality Court Order which compels DAFF to meet with the National Task Team before referring the draft to the National Assembly.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries received over 4000 applications for the fifth Interim Relief (IR) season. This figure had to scaled down to 1 500 as this was the agreed amount of permits that would be issued out under this dispensation. This then meant that the following agreed upon verification criteria would have to be adhered to strictly:
• Applicants must have a personal/historic reliance of at least 10 years and/or total dependence on the resources;
• Not be active in any other commercial sector including being a full time crew member;
• Reside within the fishing community and be a bona fide traditional fisher;
• Not be younger than 18 years;
• Those earning a government grant (Old Age Grant, Disability Grant, War Veterans Grant except Foster Care and Child Support Grant) will not be accommodated in the dispensation;
• Appointed Catch Data Monitors will not be allowed to be IR exemption holders;
• Recreational fishing permit holders may not harvest any species targeted under the fifth IR dispensation;
• One person per household, and if there are more people within the same household, they must provide evidence of their independency; and
• Anyone who receives an alternative income will not qualify for Interim Relief.
After a verification process conducted by DAFF, they requested community leaders to further review all applications. Following this rigorous process it was agreed that permits would be disseminated at the end of November. A second phase of dissemination might be considered for those who meet the criteria should the 1 500 allocation not be met.
4 September 2010 will always be remembered by the fisher folk of Struisbaai and Langebaan, especially the netfishers, as this is the day they regained their right to legitimately go to sea. With the assistance of the Legal Resources Centre, Masifundise managed to assist the fishers to regain their netfishing permits.
A fisher from Struisbaai recalls the excitement of the first weeks of September, when he saw the “Spotters/Harder Kykers” (Harder is a type of fish prevalent in Struisbaai and Langebaan) running through the community shouting: “Die Harders is hier. Die Harders is hier! Assebliefkom trek!” (The Harders are here! Please come fish!)
He maintains that by September 25, they had landed more than 1.25 tons of fish and that the fishers went from house to house and gave fish to the community.
Mr Norton Dowries who is a Coastal Links leader in Langebaan maintains that the fishers in Langebaan have decided to make the sharing of their catch with the community a monthly routine.