The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry is in extensive consultation with the abalone commercial sector to work out a recovery plan that will benefit coastal communities.
This comes after the department’s Minister Senzeni Zokwana was consulted on the expiration of long-term rights in the abalone commercial sector. The long-term rights in the sector expired on Wednesday. Minister Zokwana considered options presented to him by the sector and reached a twofold decision in light of expiration of the rights.
Firstly, he exempted right holders who had abalone fishing rights in the 2013/2014 fishing season to afford current right holders an opportunity to catch their uncaught 2013/14 abalone allocation until 30 September. Secondly, the Minister gives right holders exemptions until July 2015. Minister Zokwana said the decline in numbers in the abalone fishery was worrying and it propelled the decision, based on the consideration of the long-term conservation of the fishery.
“This downward trend suggests that the current stock levels would likely only be able to sustain one abalone fishing season," said Minister Zokwana.
He added that the extensive consultations with abalone industry will also include a plan that will look at alternative livelihoods for those involved in the sector.
“Our decision has taken into consideration socio-economic factors that have contributed to hardships experienced in coastal communities, and particularly in communities that rely on abalone for their livelihood,” Minister Zokwana said.