Coast KZN

05 Apr 2019

Minister ups abalone quota, says legal fishers can’t be punished for work of poachers

( Picture: Abalone (City of Cape Town)

Minister of Agriculture, Senzeni Zokwana announced on Friday that he would almost double the total allowable catch for abalone for the 2018/19 season from what the department had previously determined. He also said the department would relook at decisions that implied it was punishing legal abalone rights holders by cutting their catch due to “increased poaching by those operating outside of the law”.

The comes after the total allowable catch, or TAC, for the 2018/19 fishing season was lowered to 50.5 tons from 96 tons in the previous season.

The decision to lower the TAC was appealed by abalone commercial rights holders, who said it was too small. Zokwana said the total allowable catch for the season would again be upped to 96 tons.  The minister, in a statement, said the department must reassess how TAC is calculated in light of the fact that about 95% of abalone “leaves our waters taken by poachers”.

This leaves the department managing only about 5% of abalone that is legally caught.

Zokwana said the department’s scientific methodology may need to be revisited, especially around how it balances quotas with the the economic effects on abalone fishers.