With less than 30 fishing days left before the end of 2020 and the official termination of more than 1000 commercial and small-scale commercial fishing rights, the Department of Fisheries and its Minister continue to remain silent on what will happen come 1 January 2021. The last time the Minister mentioned "fishing rights" was back on 23 July 2020 when she promised that the small-scale commercial fishing allocations in the Western Cape will be completed before the end of 2020. That is another failed undertaking.
Of course, for most of the fisheries, such as tuna, hake trawl, small Pelagics and hake long line, we fully expect the unlawful issuance of "exemptions" which will authorise incumbent right holders to continue fishing despite the termination of section 18 fishing rights. These erstwhile right holders will nonetheless have to apply for section 13 fishing permits and other permits, such as export permits, to continue operating during 2021.
Of concern however, is what is to become of the 225 traditional line fishers, 150 abalone divers and 50% of hake handline fishers and 25% of squid businesses who stand to lose their authorisations to fish in a month's time because of the Minister's threat to allocate 50% of the effort in all three of these fisheries (and 25% in squid) to "small-scale" co-operatives?
And which 50%/25% (as in the case of squid) of existing operators will lose their ability to fish in 2021? How is the Minister going to select the "lucky" abalone divers, traditional line fishers, hake handliners and squid fishers?
Given that the Minister has yet to even understand what is required from the infamous socio-economic impact analyses, she will not know that the average abalone diver supports 3 support crew. The average traditional line fisher employs 10 crew and the average hake handliner, 5 crew. The average squid operation employs approximately 20 crew and support staff. This means that no less than 4000 crewmen will lose their jobs this "festive season".
AND NO, NONE OF THESE LOST JOBS WILL BE REPLACED BY SMALL-SCALE CO-OPS as none of the existing co-ops in the Northern Cape or Eastern Cape have created a single job or fished a single kilogram of their own quotas. Every right has been hawked to a large fishing company in the case of the Northern Cape lobster co-ops. In the Eastern Cape, the rights are worthless and have not generated a Rand in income as far as we have been able to determine.
We fully anticipate the squid, abalone and traditional line fisheries to interdict the Minister and halt any attempt at arbitrarily denying current right holders their fishing rights next season.
The small-scale fishing sector led by the South African United Fishers Front (SAUFF) is also disputing the legality of the Minister's proposals.
We need to be clear. The Minister's quota split proposal is unlawful and will not stand. To arbitrarily threaten more than 4000 crewmen their jobs given the current hostile social and economic environment in which this country finds itself (thanks to the shocking policies of the ANC) is criminal. To suggest that collapsed fisheries such as abalone and the traditional line fishery, which is a fishery governed under section 16 of the MLRA, can accommodate another 10,000 fishers through the co-operative model is a direct attack on the economic, ecological and biological sustainability principles recorded in section 2 of the MLRA.