In a historic step forward for transformation of the small-scale fishing sector, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has allocated fifteen percent of the Squid catch to the Small-scale Fisheries sector. Prior to this decision, squid was not in the basket of species available to the 15 co-operatives and 600 individual small scale fisher men and women who operate in the areas of the Eastern Cape where squid is harvested.
This apportionment will be reviewed at the beginning of every fishing season with the view of increasing the portion available to the Small-scale Fisheries sector to twenty-five percent of the total allowable effort in this fishery.
The review will be subject to the annual status of squid resource, fishing patterns and fishing practices of new and existing right holders and the needs of coastal communities which are dependent mainly on fishing.
"Across the world, small scale fisher men and women play an important role in promoting household food security and providing livelihoods in areas where there are little other means of support," said Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Minister, Ms Barbara Creecy. "In March 2020 the Department allocated fifteen- year rights to fishing co-operatives across the Eastern Cape. The success of these co-operatives depends amongst other issues, on having a commercially viable basket of species." Said Minister Creecy.
The limited basket of species has been raised repeatedly by small scale fishing co-operatives across the country. Accordingly, in October 2020, Minister Creecy invited interested and affected stakeholders to comment on the proposed resource split between local commercial and small-scale fishing in the Traditional Line fish, Squid and Abalone fishing sectors.
Having considered all the representations for the proposed squid apportionment split between local commercial and small-scale fishing, the Director-General, as the delegated authority in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998, has decided in terms of section 14(2), to apportion fifteen percent (15%) of the Squid Total Allowable Effort to the Small-scale Fisheries sector and 85% of the Squid Total Allowable Effort to the commercial squid sector. As already explained this apportionment will be reviewed annually with the intention of increasing it to twenty-five percent over the next few years.
Small Scale Fishers in the Eastern Cape have welcomed the announcement and believe that it will enable them to feed their families and look after their communities. Chief Dion Spandel, Chairman of the Eastern Cape Khoisan Small Scale Fishers, applauded the department regarding the decision. "I know that it was not an easy decision for her (Minister Creecy), but it had to be taken. With the 15% that the department has put in our baskets, we can now go to sea and look at buying our own boats, sending our guys to some kind of training. It is really appreciated it," said Chief Spandel. Andriaan.
The apportionment will take effect from the start of the upcoming squid season. In the coming weeks, the department will be engaging with the commercial and small-scale fishing sectors on how the apportionment will be implemented taking into account compliance with the relevant sector policies and the conditions of fishing in those respective sectors.
The squid sector is lucrative and to ensure optimal management and sustainability, the department will be introducing a Capacity Management Regime in the commercial and small-scale squid sector to better manage fishing effort in the sector in future.
The Record of Decision on the split is available here.