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Zolani Sinxo | 23 February 2024

Cape Town - The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) has disputed claims by EFF MP Nazier Paulsen that coloureds and black Africans were under-represented in the fishing sector.

Paulsen said the sector had always been a major economic activity of the coloured community, and that since democracy, coloureds and black Africans were increasingly denied access to the ocean.

The department said not only was Paulsen’s claim untrue, “but it is a gross abuse of parliamentary privilege and represents political grandstanding of the worst kind”.

It said medium- and long-term rights allocations in the commercial fishing sectors achieved significant transformation, measured in terms of black ownership of total allowable catch (TAC) and total allowable effort (TAE).

“It is worth highlighting, for instance, that the average black shareholding in the West Coast Rock Lobster Nearshore Fishery is 93.13%; the West Coast Rock Lobster Offshore Fishery is 90.73%; the Hake Inshore Trawl is 89.60%; the Large Pelagics is 74.20%; the Horse Mackerel is 84.49%; and the Patagonian Toothfish is 69.17%,” the department said.

Paulsen said the department had to quantify the value of quotas given in the fishing rights allocation process (FRAP) for commercial fishing companies compared with small-scale fishers.

“The size that is shared among small-scale fishermen pales in comparison with what is given to commercial fishing companies.

“The small-scale is nothing more than a ploy to exclude coloured and African fishers from building viable fishing companies that will contest for space against existing commercial fishing companies,” said Paulsen.

He asked for the total allocation for black people compared with those for whites. “Giving us percentages of participants is another smokescreen.

“We must know the size of TAC given to black people compared to white people,” Paulsen said.

The department said percentages of black African and coloured ownership and shareholding, as well as those for women and persons with disabilities, improved significantly since fishing rights were first allocated in 2005.

According to a study by the DFFE, the percentage and total number of declared small-scale fishers per ethnic group that participated in the study showed that for the Western Cape, the majority of small-scale fishers in the province were made up of 70% coloureds, followed by 25% black fishers.

“The remaining marginal ethnic groups, according to the figure above, are white and ‘other’ that constitute 3% and 2%, respectively. The figure above does not further define ‘other’.”

The Masifundise Development Trust, a civil society organisation within the small-scale fishing sector, asked to reserve their comments on the matter.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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