Traditional fishing communities in the Western Cape will have the granting of fishing rights delayed by another year as Barbra Creecy heads to court to set aside the process of awarding small-scale fishing rights.
Creecy’s spokesperson Albi Modise says this decision by the minister of environment, forestry and fisheries follows several complaints from people concerned by the fairness and accuracy of the process.
Based on legal advice, Creecy will seek a review of the entire process. Approaching the court will necessarily cause a delay of at least another year in the granting of rights for some communities.
According to Modise an internal audit process was launched in 2019 and concluded that the verification process was “wholly inadequate.”
Problems, including inaccurate capturing of information and the incorrect adjudication of applications by community panels, counted among errors identified by the department.
There was an inconsistent application of criteria between communities, an incorrect and incoherent application and appeals process, as well as incomplete and inaccurate data, including lost applications.
“Problems are widespread and the only available option is to review the process for all FISHING communities in the Western Cape.”
However, the consequences of not approaching the court are potentially even more disastrous. “A new process is the only way to ensure that rights are allocated fairly.
“Results of these assessments cannot and should not be relied on for any decision-making purpose in terms of the regulations,” Modise says.
Should the court application be successful, originally registered individuals will have an opportunity to submit new information to support their original applications. This will ensure the process is applied fairly and consistently to all communities.
Modise says, “Numerous steps will be taken by the department to minimise the impact of the court application on fishing communities in the province.
These include bringing the application as quickly as possible, prioritising the new verification process and conducting it as swiftly as possible.
“While the minister understands that there are some communities who have no objection to the outcome of the verification process, these could not be singled out for different treatment. Problems with the process are widespread and the only available option is to review the process for all communities in the Western Cape.”