Durban fishermen want access to all traditional fishing grounds

Environmentalists are also outraged over ExxonMobil’s plans to drill for oil and gas off Durban’s southern coastline.

Fisherfolks in Durban say they want government to grant them access to traditional fishing grounds all along the Indian Ocean coastline, reports the Berea Mail.

According to the fishermen, Japanese, Chinese and other international trawlers are being allowed to fish during the winter months, thereby depriving local fishermen of sardines and shad that are in abundance at this time.

The KZN Subsistence Fishermen’s Forum (KZNSFF), together with the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), held a fisherman’s walk on Durban’s Promenade on Saturday to raise awareness for the plight of fisherfolk.

SDCEA spokesperson Joanne Groom said legitimate fisherfolk who possessed fishing licences had to endure constant harassment, fines and, in some instances, arrest, and were forced to appear in court only to find that the cases had been withdrawn.

“These challenges have emanated since fishermen began empowering and educating themselves about human rights injustices. Fishermen have worked together with Ezemvelo Wildlife to develop a mentoring booklet to ensure that endangered fish species are protected and that all policies are adhered to by all fishermen. Subsistence fisherfolk pay millions of rands, which go into the state treasury, through the purchasing of fishing licences at the post office and yet there is no benefit: no facilities or services in return for their contribution,” Groom said.

The local environmentalists also called for the need for strong and experienced leadership at Ezemvelo Wildlife.

According to SDCEA, Ezemvelo has a crucial role to play in our society and has been at the forefront of conservation in KwaZulu-Natal, halting poaching and protecting animals and marine life.

“Although at times they seemed to be harsh and have treated subsistence fisherfolk with distaste, we feel that they have been the strongest enforcement body in the province, watching our coastline, parks and beaches. Without that oversight we would leave nothing for the present and future generations to view, enjoy or eat,” said Groom.

At the end of the walk it was agreed that the city, government, Transnet and all the departments which are responsible for protecting the ocean must work together with civil society to ensure marine stocks and waters are protected and always available. There was also a call to end the dumping of harmful chemicals and a call for an urgent imbizo.

Caxton News Service



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