The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the decision by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), Barbara Creecy, to permit recreational fishing under level 3 of the lockdown pending the gazetting of fishing regulations. We call on the minister to ensure the swift gazetting of these regulations to allow for fishing communities to feed themselves and their families.
The DA has placed consistent pressure on DEFF and Minister Creecy, alongside mounting public pressure, to lift the restriction on recreational fishing. We are extremely relieved that the call has been heeded and that fishing communities are now able to secure food under these very difficult economic circumstances.
We further call on Minister Creecy to address allegations of exclusion and lack of transparency around the allocation of small-scale fishing rights in Kwa-Zulu Natal that had led to desperate circumstances for subsistence fishers holding only recreational permits under the lockdown. Subsistence fishers allege that they have had to rely on recreational fishing permits to eke out a living as they did not qualify for small-scale fishing permits, were unaware of the deadline for applications, or did not have the means to apply – this is despite arguing that they are generational subsistence fishers.
Noting these concerns, the DA has released a petition which will be handed over to Minister Creecy calling for:
- Increased transparency in the allocation of small-scale fishing rights across provinces; and
- A review of existing fishing categories as per the Marine Living Resources Act for inclusion of a subsistence fishing category that addresses the issue of subsistence fishers who have only been able to qualify for recreational fishing permits.
The DA will continue to fight for the rights of subsistence fishers across South Africa. We recognise that fishing communities constitute some of the most marginalised and impoverished communities in our country and deserve a fair and transparent opportunity to secure their livelihoods.