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Statement on the Western Cape High Court Judgement on Fishing Rights

5 July 2017

The SACP Western Cape Province notes and welcomes the decision by the Western Cape High Court, that the interim interdict previously heard by Judge Bozalek on the 29th December 2016 and issued on the 3 January 2017, should not be made final. The interim interdict sought and issued in favour of Viking Inshore Fishing prevented the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) from awarding permits in the inshore trawl fishery. This had a devastating effect to small on new entrants, mainly black, in the sector as they could not fish till the matter could be concluded in court.

The SACP notes the statement issued by Viking Inshore Fishing, lamenting on the court`s decision not being unanimous as one judge out of the three who heard the case, handed down a dissenting judgement, in favour of Viking Inshore Fishing. We note the dissenting judgement was issued by Judge Cloete, differed with the majority judgement of Judge Magona and Judge Nditha. The attendant issue is transformation of the fishing sector to benefit the majority and put an end to intergenerational poverty in coastal communities on one hand and maintaining capital monopoly grip on the lucrative fishing resources.

The SACP condemns the action of fishing industry in opposing government`s initiatives to transform the fishing industry and its value chain. We encourage the government to eliminate the barriers of entry they deploy in fighting transformation in the Fishing industry. As the SACP we further dismiss with contempt the arrogance of the fishing industry representatives which is laced with pretence to care about the welfare of workers whereas the real intentions is to continue with profit maximisation to the exclusion of workers and communities in general.

We call for a total overhaul of rights allocation, to not allocate to commercial fishing companies. The South African fishing resource must be allocated for the poor and working class through the progressive Small Scale Fishing Policy which DAFF has finalised and poorly implemented. We support the empowering provisions of the policy that seek to ensure that it is coastal communities and fishing co-operatives that should ONLY catch, process and benefit from the resource from the Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) of South African Waters. The state needs to urgently put resources behind this policy and enforce its implementation in a mass scale roll out to rural communities in all coastal communities.

We urge the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cde Senzeni Zokwana, to urgently roll out transformation to the rest of the fisheries sectors to ensure that coastal communities, cooperatives and workers in general participate and own the entire value chain.

We trust this judgement is the first of many judicial confirmations to roll back minimalistic oppressive monopoly business interests towards the working masses and the poor. We support prioritisation of the working class through government policies, administrative action and political decisions and accordingly we congratulate the DAFF for its brave position against exploitative capitalist interests.

Issued by Benson Ngqentsu - SACP`s Western Cape Provincial Secretary

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