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Stop DAFF from killing Recreational Crayfishing.

Stop DAFF from killing Recreational Crayfishing.
  
  

 


Why this is important

There are recent figures that show that in the last year, there was in the region of 97% overfishing on the overall TAC (Total Allowable Catch) for Westcoast Rock Lobster.

Desmond Stevens Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has proposed a minimum reduction of 16% in order to secure some degree of sustainability. Fingers are being pointed at commercial harvesters as well as the Subsistence "interim Relief" fishermen as the culprits. Exports far exceeded the commercial harvest so one has to ask where is the balance coming from?

DAFF has put forward the following proposals: Total TAC reduced by 251 tons for the 2013/2014 season .

• Recreational TAC has be reduced from 183 tons to 83 tons a reduction of 100 tons (a few years back TAC was 400 tons)
• Daily bag limit remain 4.
• Resulting in 26 days of fishing weekends and public holidays only starting 15 Nov 2013 .( 2012/2013 Season had 60 fishing days)

The final proposal will be signed off by the DDG on Friday 25th of October

I would like to call all recreational fishermen, and other interested parties to appose the DDG's recommendations on the following grounds:

Laws targeting law-abiding citizen are an ineffective and illogical solution to the problem of poaching

The massive overfishing of last years TAC was not caused by recreationals, as recreationals are not responsible for exporting crayfish or supplying the market where these figures where derived from. Also we cannot bury our heads in the sand and say that poaching has not had an enormous impact on the crayfish stocks.

Reducing the limits for recreational fishermen absolutely illogical, as not only is it punishing the wrong sector, but it will in any event have nominal effect on the crayfish stocks. If anything, it will only encourage previously law abiding permit holders, in frustration to turn to poaching and thereby aggravate the situation. The only way to deal with over fishing is to be able to match the regulations with a suitable level of policing. Stricter regulations in and of themselves achieve nothing if they are not policeable. The fact that the stocks have suffered so much over the past year, is proof that the policing is completely inadequate.

The true impact of recreational crayfishing is almost certainly over-exaggerated.

The true impact of recreational crayfishing is not being accurately measured and is quite possibly overstated. This is because there are no systems to accurately determine what recreationals have actually caught. We may be given a season of 40 days, but there are many factors that substantially limit us to much less fishing time. The cape town weather usually makes at least 50% of those days, unfishable. Then there is availability, most recreationals have jobs, and can only fish over weekends or a few days in during their leave. At the end of the day the vast majority of recreational fishermen will get 3 or 4 trips in a season, and that's if they are very lucky. In my circles that is considered a fairly good season. Then there are hundreds and possibly thousands of licenses that are taken out, but are never used.

Since the DAFF has no accurate means of knowing this, it could be quite unfair to assume that we catch more than we do in reality. The DAFF monitors the condition of the stocks, that but does not tell them who caught what. It's clear that recreationals are being punished for the sins of the interim relief fishers as well as the commercials, are we too being punished for the sins of the poachers?

The reduction in the TAC is grossly disproportionate and inequitable.

We all understand the need to preserve our natural resources. We would be more than happy to accept a reduction in the TAC, so long as it was even spread across all sectors. But the suggestion is that the recreational TAC (total allowable catch) be slashed from 183 tons to 83 tons (54% reduction) whereas the only other sector that was reduced was offshore (traps) which was reduced to 1355 tons (12.5% reduction). The interim relief fishers TAC was increased by 25 tons to 276 tons. This is a grossly unfair and unjust.

The reduction of the recreational crayfishing season, will make recreational crayfishing unsustainable, thereby negatively effecting the economy.

Each recreational fisherman spend thousands of Rands each season, on gear, petrol, accommodation, tackle in order to collect a 4 crayfish a day. As explained above, the majority of recreationals will only catch 4, 8 or 12 crayfish in a whole season. Therefore the recreational fishing sector, in proportion to it's share of the TAC, puts far more money into the economy of the country than commercial fishing.

For this reason we cannot understand the disproportionate punishing of the recreational sector as it makes no economic sense!
The new regulations will make recreational fishing unsustainable. Does the DAFF realize the costs involved in buying, maintaining a boat, towing it, fueling it, buying bait, buying numerous licenses, driving long distances, buying park entry permits, and paying launch fees, just so that one can catch a handful crayfish, if you are so lucky to find a good day within the season. The regulations will without a doubt kill off a massive chunk of this industry!

The economic effects will be far reaching. For starters, few people will consider it worthwhile buying licenses (which I believe is a key source of income for policing the resource). Fishing tackle shops, bait companies, fuel for boats, boat manufacturers, Boat shops, boat mechanics, diving shops, trailer companies, safety gear manufacturers, not to mention the tourism industries of small coastal towns like Parternoster, Yzterfontein and Lambertsbay, where the recreational fishing season makes a significant economic contribution, will all suffer.
What about the tour operating companies, that charter very expensive boats to catch catch crayfish, thereby pumping large amounts of foreign currency into the local tourism industry.

What are we calling for?

We want the DDG to reconsider his proposal, and come up with something more fair, equitable and sustainable for all parties involved. My suggestion is that the 251 ton reduction, gets evenly distributed in proportion with each sectors slice of the pie.

If you support this call, please sign our petition, like our Facebook page, and share this with as many people as possible!

Posted October 24, 2013
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