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The Eastern Cape (EC) delegation from the National Council of Provinces, has today heard harrowing stories of deaths at sea and exploitation of fishermen in the province.

The Secretary of the EC Black Fishermen Association, Mr Mzamo Cakwabe, on Thursday came to brief the delegation on challenges the fishermen experience on their fishing expeditions. He said the small fishermen were challenged with application forms to gain licences, as they were too complicated.

“Even if the application process had been done, it is still difficult to enter the industry, as the primary requirement is a fishing vessel. Most of the small-scale fishermen do not have these vessels. As if this is not enough, they are asked for an application fee, minimum of which is no less than R11 000,” he said.

The association lamented the small participation in the industry in the EC, and also complained about fronting, lax application of the law once fishermen are at sea, the dominance of large companies and infrequent payment of salaries, among other issues.

“We are looking for recognition as employees and not independent contractors, but also income protection during months of closure. We are also calling for the strict monitoring of the industry by government,” Mr Cakwabe said.

Committee Member Ms Thabiso Wana empathised with the fishing communities about deaths at sea and poor working conditions. She said Parliament should be provided with the list of companies who do not comply with legislation.

The EC delegation leader, Ms Zukiswa Ncitha, sought clarity on contractual arrangements with fishermen. “On fronting, we must have facts of what you are talking about. If you claim a certain company has made a false claim about its credentials, then we should be able to prove it. Fronting is illegal,” she said.

Sibongile Maputi
12 October 2017