New team for interim fishing group

Three new caretakers have been elected to oversee the interim-relief fishing policy in Hout Bay.

The appointment of Michelle Yon, Charmaine Phillips and Ralph Warner comes after the former caretaker, Ikram “Lamie” Halim was accused of mismanaging the interim-relief policy. An accusation Mr Halim has denied.

Since June, a new fishing body, the Hangberg Interim Fishing Community, has been trying , through the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), to have Mr Halim removed from his position.

The organisation complained that fishers were not being paid for their catch during Mr Halim’s four-year term.

Interim-reliefstatuswas bestowed on small-scale fishers in 2007, granting them short-term permits of between four and eight months.

It was meant to be a temporary solution for fishers who did not benefit from long-term rights established by the government.

While Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, has pledged to fast-track the roll-out of small-scale fishing rights in the wake of last month’s violent protests in Hout Bay (“Ire at quota fast-track,” Sentinel, August 24), the Hangberg Interim Fishing Community is convinced that there will at least be another “season or two” under the interim relief policy, as there are still questions over verification of fishers in the province.

This is why the organisation has sought to put the new caretakers in place before the fishing season begins in November.

After six deceased fishers were removed from the list, there are now 91 Hout Bay fishers falling under the interim relief policy.

Fifty of these fishers voted in favour of a change of caretaker, which was recognised by DAFF.

“We have three off-load zones for our fishers – Hout Bay, Simon’s Town and Gordon’s Bay. One caretaker will be responsible for each harbour,” said
Hangberg Interim Fishing Community chairperson Michael Baartman.

“Our plan going forward is also to give all the fishers a weekly update on events.

“Essentially, we are hoping that by having three caretakers, the processes will not be open to manipulation, as has been the case with one caretaker at the helm.”

The organisation is also looking into the development of an app, specifically designed for Hout Bay fishers.

“The app will allow both the boat owner and the caretaker to load information about the day’s catch. This way the correct information can be displayed to everyone signed up to the app.”

Mr Halim said he had decided to “call it quits” as caretaker, even though he knew “some fishers” were not happy about the latest developments. “I am aware that this new committee have been going around calling me a skelm, and saying I should be put in jail and things. But I’m washing my hands of this now.

“They can go ahead and take over,” he said.

“This committee is trying to degrade me, but I haven’t seen a cent in my role as caretaker. But they are now going to see there’s a lot of work involved as caretaker.

“The interim relief has been a balls-up from the beginning. It’s like DAFF has now thrown the process to the community, and now there are all these people wanting the power.”

DAFF spokesperson, Merle van Diemel acknowledged receipt of the Sentinel’s queries but did not respond by the time this edition went to print.