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An about-turn on WCRL quotas
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An about-turn on WCRL quotas

DFFE to review the West Coast Rock Lobster Total Allowable Catch

SOUTH AFRICA: Under pressure from both the small-scale and commercial fishing sectors, the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy has asked the newly appointed Consultative Advisory Forum (the CAF) to review the 2021/2022 TAC process and allocation.

This decision follows the announcement on 15 October, by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment regarding cuts to the West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL) Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the 2021/2022 fishing season.

During consultations with the small-scale fishers, the Minister noted that many Interim Relief fishers expressed the need for a more sustainable basket of species to be allocated to fishing communities. The Minister indicated that the apportionment split which will allocate a more sustainable basket of species to small-scale fishers was gazette for public comment on the 23 October 2020. The final gazette which has taken into account the public comment process will be published in the coming two weeks.

The CAF is a newly constituted panel of both local and international fisheries and conservation scientists, industry representation through FishSA, and community representatives.  Minister Creecy has requested the CAF to:

  • consider presentations and representations from stakeholders on the methodology used to determine the TAC;
  • review the appropriateness of the proportional cuts within the various sectors of the fishery; 
  • review data on the poaching estimates used in the TAC model;
  • advise on whether the current cut is an appropriate approach to sustainable use of the resource, and
  • advise on an appropriate way in which fishing communities can assist the department to co-manage the stock.

Some industry commentators, however, are asking for clarification on who the actual members of CAF are.

While the CAF is reviewing the 2021 TAC, commercial right holders and small-scale and Interim Relief fishers will be allowed to continue fishing on the 2021 TAC figures.  This is to ensure that fishers are not completely deprived of access to the resource and incomes.  The CAF will be requested to treat the review with urgency and to make recommendations to the Minister within an agreed timeframe.

“I am acutely aware that a large number of people rely on the WCRL resource for their livelihoods, and that the current proposed cut in quotas will have a devastating effect on already stretched incomes following the devastating effect of the covid pandemic and the impact it had on export markets for Rock Lobster” said Minister Creecy. 


PHOTO: Paternoster Lobster fishermen - SOURCE: Adobe Stock Photos

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