Friday, February 5, 2010

Angry Over Fishing License Hike

 There has been a lot of angry people out there over the proposed fishing licenses / permit price's.
See my previous post New Spearfishing License Fees
The Mercury and now the Cape Times have run this article ... its good to see this getting some main stream publicity and attention. See the article below ......

Fishermen are furious about massive hikes of 200 percent to 400 percent for recreational angling fees and there are fears that the cost of supermarket and restaurant fish will also rise because of heftier levies on commercial fishing.

The cost of an annual recreational angling permit is set to rise from R69 to R200 from the beginning of May, along with crayfish permits (from R75 to R500) and spearfishing (from R75 to R300). Added to this, skippers of recreational fishing boats will have to pay an extra R500 a year.

Plans to charge an extra R30 "application fee" for recreational angling have also caused confusion.

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica has given the public a month to comment on the proposals, but her failure to publish any rationale for the hefty hikes has added fuel to the fire.

Poorer fishermen, he said, could not afford the increases
Media officers from Sonjica's department and her Marine and Coastal Management division (MCM) did not respond to queries yesterday.

However, anglers have already started venting their anger on fishing websites and to angling magazines about the latest "thievery".

Cape Town angler Gary Thompson suggested the new fees would be counter-productive because several anglers would now risk fines rather than buying licences. Poorer fishermen, he said, could not afford the increases.

SA Deep Sea Fishing Angling Association spokesman Hymie Steyn has also drafted several questions to put to Sonjica about the amount of money raised from angling permits during 2009, and how this was spent.

Rudy van der Elst, director of the Durban-based Oceanographic Research Institute, was also surprised about the scale of the hikes.

He noted there had been a massive reduction in funding for research and conservation bodies like the Oceanographic Research Institute this year. Continues...

Another fear was that if fishermen refused to pay the new fees, years of data gathered on fishing trends and effective management tools could be in jeopardy.

Commenting on separate hikes in commercial fishing levies, Van der Elst said it was inevitable that the consumer price of fish would also rise, particularly for sardines and anchovies.

But from a conservation perspective, there could be positive impacts for over-exploited fish species, as some commercial fishermen would switch their attention to less-exploited fish, or simply look for new business opportunities outside of fishing.

Dave Rorke, managing editor of Ski-Boat magazine, noted in a recent editorial that Marine and Coastal Management ran out of money in 2008 and could not afford to pay its phone and electricity bills, raising questions about its ability to administer the Marine Living Resources Fund, which is supported by angling fees and permits.

The department's fisheries and environmental protection boat Sarah Baartman had also been hired out to PetroSA as a standby safety vessel and guard ship - yet now there were plans to invest in a new R1.3 billion polar research ship at a time when Sonjica and her deputy, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, had splashed out on a new Mercedes S350 (R796 000) and a BMW X5 (R900 000).

Law enforcement against illegal commercial fishing remained weak, with provincial conservation agency Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife complaining it had no money to patrol or buy equipment.

When are these fat cat useless politicians going to be accountable?

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