“We are very concerned about the national state of fisheries management and over exploitation. This is a disturbing global trend which we see manifesting itself locally as well to the detriment of livelihoods and ecosystem functioning. We note the court action with regard to the West Coast Rock Lobster and trust that this will help bring sanity back into the management of marine resources.”
So said Patrick Dowling, Chair of the Far South Peninsula Community Forum (FSPCF) in a letter to various ministers of Fisheries, Forestry, Agriculture and Environmental Affairs.
There is increasing evidence coming from reliable sources showing that:
- Poaching and/or over-exploitation of abalone (perlemoen) and West Coast rock lobster (crayfish) and other marine resources along the coastline from Muizenberg to Hout Bay is rife.
- Scientific stock assessments by the Department’s own and contracted staff have conclusively shown that the stocks of abalone, west coast rock lobster and numerous line fish species are collapsed with less than 10 % of the unexploited biomass remaining.
- At these low stock levels, not only are negative ecosystem impacts occurring, but the yield and socioeconomic benefits fishing communities and the country receives from these resources is drastically diminished.
- Law enforcement agency staff are suffering low morale and seem to be ineffective in curbing an alarming trend that matches the national situation.
- Integration and co-ordination of the efforts of various departmental agencies including SAPS, DAFF inspectors, Border Patrol etc are either non-existent or so limited as to be ineffective.
- Relevant scientific studies that should help determine TACs, quotas, bag limits and conservation policy are being cancelled, ignored or deliberately misinterpreted in ways that can only lead to further degradation of marine resources in this part of the Cape Peninsula and other areas along the South African Coastline.
- Ministerial and departmental acknowledgement of the crisis or any commitment to doing anything effective about the situation is lacking.
- The socioeconomic and environmental impacts of the current poor official handling of an entirely unsustainable situation will be extremely negative and there is already evidence among various coastal communities of this happening.
Ministerial and departmental acknowledgement of the crisis or any commitment to doing anything effective about the situation is lacking.
We question whether DAFF has taken cognisance of Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that South Africa signed along with 192 other countries in 2015.The goal’s rationale and objectives can be summed up in the following description by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Coastal and marine resources contribute USD 28 trillion to the global economy every year. But this is only a small part of why they are so important to our planet. The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. Throughout history, oceans and seas have been vital conduits for trade and transportation. Careful management of this essential global commons resource is a key feature of a sustainable future.
Ocean protection a required SDG
Sustainable Development Goal 14 commits countries to united action over what is a truly global responsibility – the protection of our oceans and the lives that depend on it. By 2020, countries commit to achieving the sustainable management of marine ecosystems, and in another five years, significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds. This will require an international scientific partnership, regulation of harvesting and fishing, and enhance our research and knowledge on issues critical to the survival of life below water. (our emphasis)
Departments fail to look after marine resources
We wholeheartedly endorse the legal action being taken by the World Wide Fund for Nature to oblige DAFF to address responsibly the mismanagement of the West Coast rock lobster fishery which is indicative of a general failure with regard to the department’s duties to look after the long-term sustainability of marine resources.
We would like to receive reassurance from the Department and Parliament that this matter which has both local and national implications of a very serious nature, is getting attention focused on returning South Africa to a sustainable and scientifically rigorous pathway including implementing scientific recommendations from the Department’s own and contracted scientific staff as well as effective and professional compliance monitoring.
The Far South Community Forum is the joint voice of several civic, community and environmental member organizations in the Far South Peninsula: Clovelly, Fish Hoek, Imhoffs Gift, Kommetjie, Misty Cliffs, Noordhoek, Ocean View, Scarborough, Simon’s Town, Smitswinkel Bay, Sunnydale, Sun Valley.