The Department of Forestry and Fisheries says it has not taken a decision on the total allowable catch (TAC) for West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL) for the 2017/18 fishing season.
The department on Wednesday said it is concerned that the recent protests linked to a rumoured reduction in the TAC is premature. The department has appealed for calm and it has urged law and order to be maintained to prevent destruction to lives and property.
According to the department, a consultative process is underway, which is based on a recommendation to reduce the TAC from the previous fishing season.
"This process is the normal one that is followed to determine the annual TAC and it must be stressed that the recommendation does not constitute a decision.
"The protest action based on a reduced TAC is misplaced and misleading, as the decision has not yet been finalised. The fishing season for WCRL starts on 1 October for the Northern Cape and 1 November for the other areas. The department will announce the TAC for the coming season shortly," the department said in a statement.
Through the Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP), the department has also made a significant provision in the WCRL fishery from both the Offshore and Nearshore sectors for the small scale fisheries as part of the implementation of the small scale fisheries policy.
Thousands of people depend on fisheries resources for food and as a source of income to meet basic needs.
"The importance of maintaining or even increasing the yields from these fisheries by sustainable harvesting and sound management that balances science and socio-economic parameters is of great importance to ensure that South Africa's fisheries contribute to DAFF's stated goals, which include food security and nutrition, job creation and contribution to the GDP. The responsibility of the department is to ensure that balance," the department said.
The department said it recognises that fishers, particularly small-scale fishing communities, have legitimate grievances and demands, which the department is attempting to address together with the affected communities.