Rock lobster. (Photo: WWF)
Fisheries department to appeal rock lobster quota ruling
Saturday, October 13, 2018, 02:10 (GMT + 9)
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is considering to appeal a court ruling on fishing quotas in favour of the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature’s application for the department to reduce the quota.
South Africa currently has less than two per cent of the original number of lobsters left and the Western Cape High Court determined that the regulated catch amount of the resource set by fisheries authorities for the 2017/18 season was "irrational, invalid and unconstitutional," eNCA reported.
WWF decided to go to Court to ensure the future of rock lobsters and, based on scientific reports, presented their recovery plan in Court proposing that the total allowable catch (TAC) amount should be lowered to at least 790 tonnes, instead the 1,924 tonnes.
But there is little hope that this amount will be lowered when the new lobster season dates are announced at the end of the month.
The DAFF explains that to set the West Coast rock lobster TAC it considered the coastal communities socioeconomic factors.
“We cannot take a decision that will disadvantage the poor people. That’s why we’re going to explain, and where necessary, we may have to appeal the decision,” says department spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana.
In his ruling, Judge Owen Rodgers considered the small-scale fishers' recommendations, who suggested the implementation of catch restrictions for commercial fishermen using large-scale traps. On the other hand, the artisanal fishermen only use hoops.
The WWF has added the West Coast rock lobster to the SASSI red list, hoping to encourage consumers to stop enjoying rock lobsters at present.
The organisation estimates that unless measures are taken to protect the resource, rock lobster could be extinct within five years.