09 December 2004

Fishermen want 'sustainable access' to sea

A group of fishermen in the Western Cape have launched a high court challenge to be allowed what they call "sustainable access" to the sea.

Cape Town non-government organisation Masifundise, which is also a party to the application, said on Wednesday that its lawyers had filed papers in the Cape High Court earlier this week.

Environmental Affairs Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk had been cited as respondent.

The challenge was an attempt to get Marine and Coastal Management to give "legal recognition" to traditional and artisanal fishers, who had been increasingly marginalised and impoverished over the years.

There are about 5 000 of these fishers in the Western Cape, Masifundise director, Naseegh Jaffer, said.

They depended on the sea for food and a "livelihood" for day-to-day living costs. However, the government was forcing them to operate as small businesses, for which they were neither suitably qualified nor skilled.

The applicants were not seeking to overturn the quota system, which was useful for dealing with commercial fishing.

Instead, they wanted "traditional and artisanal" fishers recognised as a category to whom the quota system would not apply.

Jaffer said it was likely the application would be heard next year.


Post a Comment

<< Home