Fishing folk feel misled
By Zolile Mate
Buffalo City Metro and East London Ports announced the re-opening of three fishing port areas on Saturday, February 21, 2020. The three sites, the Western Brake Wall, the Foreshore and the Orient Pier were closed by the East London Ports in 2004 without public consultation.
Activist and Chairperson of the Buffalo City Association of Saltwater Anglers, Chris Greyvenstein, claims only one area is open. “There are no three fishing Port areas, only one was opened on Saturday, the other two are still outstanding.”
Greyvenstein states that the only reason for the closure given was that the Ports authorities had to comply with the new International Ship and Ports facility security code and they closed the three areas.
During the opening at the Orient Pier, Ports Manager, Sharon Sijako said, “We are aware of the importance of ocean fishing to our City, not only recreationally but for economical purposes. We have been petitioning hard over the three years to relax some of the stringent national and international regulations that are in place - which are globally monitored and all port authorities need to comply with.”
Greyvenstein believes that the National Ports Authorities of East London’s interpretation of the (ISPS) code is incorrect. The Association filed a complaint in terms of the National Port Act with the Ports Regulator in 2011 for the re-opening of the Orient Pier.
According to him, the National Ports Authority of East London argued that the fishermen are not ‘Port Users’ as defined in terms of the directives of the National Ports Act and accordingly the regulator cannot hear their appeal.
In a similar matter in Durban in 2012, the same legal points were raised in case of Ebrahim Yusuf and three others. The Ports Regulator made a ruling in favour of the fishermen, declaring fishermen as Port Users as defined by the Act.
“We are currently negotiating with the Ports Authority for the re-opening of the Western Brake wall and the Foreshore area on the West bank side. The fisherman bought indemnity permits without seeing the fishing area and 90% said that it is unsafe to fish in that area because of granite blocks of rock that the Ports Authority dumped over time while it was closed for fishing,” he said.
Buffalo City Deputy Executive Mayor, Zoliswa Matana, said the Metro will identify additional areas along the coastline for safe and sustainable fishing opportunities. She added that they are looking at engaging the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries over issues affecting the fishing community in Buffalo City.