By Carmel Loggenberg
CAPE TOWN, June 10 — The numbers of South Africa’s West Coast lobster and abalone are decreasing alarmingly, according to a report released by the government which reveals diminishing fish stocks.
Poaching is one of the main reasons for diminishing fish stocks, says Fisheries Research Development Director Dr Kim Prochaska in the report released Monday.
He said: “Several of our resources are heavily depleted, and including the high-value resources like the West Coast rock lobster and abalone. The West Coast rock lobster is currently sitting at 2.6 per cent of its pre-fish levels. We would like it higher than that, [but] the abalone is a bit higher, and the fishing pressure from the poaching sector continues to deplete the resource.”
The decline weighs heavily on fishing communities. Hangberg, Western Cape Province, fisherman Darion Williams says: “The big companies get most of the quotas and we as small-scale fishermen we struggle with the little that they give us to survive. It costs us lots of money to go out to sea. The Government says it’s important [that] there’s fair opportunity within the fishing sector while still maintaining strict measures.”
Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said: ”We need to correct this, that if people don’t get a fishing right, it’s not because of your name or anything. It [is] because you don’t meet the specifications that are given, you can’t justify that people living in coastal areas are not benefiting.”