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‘Kreef’ allowable catch is limited

The amount of west coast rock lobster that fishers can access in the upcoming season remains unchanged from the previous season.

The Department of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries announced last week that the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for all west coast rock lobster (WCRL) sectors is 1 084 tons for the 2019-’20 season.

Last season, the then Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries slashed the TAC with almost 40% to 1 084 tonnes.

This reduction sparked outrage among quota-rights holders in the various fishing communities of Kleinmond, Hawston, Mount Pleasant and Gansbaai. Fishermen expressed their unhappiness and grievances with regards to the reduction in the TAC. A meeting was held with the then Deputy Minister, but Jan Gelderblom, a councillor of the Overberg District Municipality and a Hawston resident, says new conversations need to take place because there is a new minister at the helm.

“We are very grateful that the quota was not reduced even further this year,” he says. “But we would also like to open the conversation with Minister of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy.” Gelderblom says the current quotas, across all the crayfish sectors, are not viable. “We believe the minister will have a sympathetic ear, because she is a woman. She understands what is needed to make a household budget balance.” He explains that the current west coast rock lobster quotas are not enough to keep fisher families afloat.

Conservationists, on the other hand, feel keeping the TAC at just above 1 000 is detrimental to the west coast rock lobster numbers.

Shaheen Moolla, author of the blog Feike and former consultant to the Department Fisheries, tweeted about his surprise about the season’s TAC. “The South African west coast rock lobster TAC remains unchanged which is surprising given that the TAC was projected to be reduced by at least 10% to keep to the recovery target. Our lobster resource is below 2% of historic pre-fished levels.”

Gelderblom, however, says the west coast rock lobster is bountiful along the Overstrand coast, from Hangklip to Gansbaai. “The sea is red with crayfish! We can also see this from the crayfish that are being confiscated from those fishers that take crayfish without a licence.”

The apportionments per sector are as follows:

# Commercial Fishing (Offshore): 563,91 tons

# Commercial Fishing (Nearshore): 170,25 tons

# Recreational Fishing 38,76 tons

# Small-Scale Fishing sector (Interim Relief Measure/Nearshore allocation): 170,25 tons

# Small-Scale Fishing sector (Offshore allocation): 140,83 tons

Foreign Fishing: 0 tons

Total: 1 084 tons

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