Nothing underhand about abalone permits

By Bev Mortimer:

There is nothing underhand in the way abalone permits have been issued to Eastern Cape fishermen.

So says Lionel Adendorf from the SA government Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in repsonse to press reports that allegations had been made by some people, including an MP, that abalone fishing permits were not being given to fishermen in the Eastern Cape but to some companies in the Western Cape. The complainants alleged the poor were used as a front for rich companies to line the latter’s pockets.

“To get hold of abalone you need to be an experienced diver. The permit holders are experienced and registered diving companies as the fishermen cannot dive themselves,” Adendorf told St Francis Chronicle. The fishermen selected the diving companies themselves, he points out.

He revealss that in 2010 fishermen were given the opportunity to apply to become registered beneficiaries of this trial scheme. Several meetings were held and fishermen were chosen from applicants to be registered to benefit from catches made by appointed diving companies during a trial scheme.
Appointed agents will divide the harvested abalone among the registered fishermen.

Adendorf also reveals that permits were issued to seven diving companies, mostly in the Western Cape. The seven groups signed agreements with the fishing companies to dive on their behalf. These companies will harvest abalone for the registered fishermen along about 400 kms of the Eastern Cape coast. About 30 tonnes of abalone will be harvested annually over the next three years.

Adendorf stresses this is an experimental project. These are experimental permits to benefit disadvantaged communities. This project will also enable research into the abalone industry to glean information on such things like the number of abalone, the abundance or lack of abalone, their size and ages, whether it is a sustainable and viable industry or not, Adendorf says.

In this way fishermen on the ground can be enriched. Plus he says those people that are complaining should realise this is an experimental project and it will be refined and improved upon as time progresses.

There is a possibility that more permit holders can be appointed and it is hoped that it can be a successful venture.
Adendorf reveals the chosen representative for Jeffreys Bay and St Francis Bay registered fishermen is Sean Geswindt and the diving company for the registered fishermen in these Kouga towns is Overberg Commercial Abalone Divers in the Western Cape.

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