ANC puts future of recreational crayfish sector on the line

Issued by Dave Bryant MP – DA Shadow Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
29 May 2023 in News

The DA is concerned about the lack of recognition being given to the economic contributions made by recreational crayfish (rock lobster) fishers and their involvement in the drafting of relevant rock lobster strategies. Portions of the draft Rock Lobster Strategy were presented to the portfolio of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment this week. It was clear from the presentation that recreational fishers catching crayfish, (known to many as kreef), are being unfairly targeted and set up as a scape goat for the decline in stocks.

Many South African families have fond memories of being able to catch a few kreef along the coast with a permit from the local post office. Crayfish is a delicacy that most South African families are unable to afford in restaurants and has always been a special treat for those intrepid enough to buy a permit and catch a few off the coast (crayfish sells for around R900 per kilo to foreign markets). The recreational crayfish season is now limited to 12 days a year, which makes obtaining the equipment and purchasing the permits for this very short window a waste for many recreational fishers and many have now sold their equipment.

Whilst the DA recognizes that stocks of crayfish are threatened, the focus should not be on punishing recreational fishers and their families. Instead, the department should be focusing on targeting the dangerous poaching syndicates responsible for the depletion of stocks and the ongoing contribution to organised crime. This applies to both crayfish and abalone.

The Rock Lobster Enforcement Strategy, which the committee was initially told had been signed off in March, will apparently now go back for further consultation and is likely to only be on its way to being properly concluded next year. The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) advised that the Recreational Fishing Working Group, set up to help give a voice to recreational fishers, was not consulted during the drafting of the strategy as it was deemed to be too disorganised.

Furthermore, a comprehensive study on recreational crayfish activity in the Western Cape was apparently not even considered during the drafting of the strategy. The DA has requested that this study be provided to the Minister and officials at DFFE for their urgent consideration.

The study allegedly warns of dire impacts on tourism and other industries should recreational crayfish quotas be further reduced.

The ANC appears intent on using its influence to take away the fishing rights of traditional coastal communities and South African families, while dragging its feet on addressing the real issues of marine poaching. The DA will continue to do all it can to assist in combatting marine poaching in areas where we govern, such as in the Western Cape, whilst ensuring that we do not destroy the heritage and culture associated with recreational and traditional fishing.

As part of national government in 2024, the DA will get to work immediately to stop the rot within the current ANC-led fisheries sector and return our proud fishing heritage to what it once was.