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Subsistence Permits

Not to over-stress the absurdity in the first place, of bureaucratizing access to their coastal resources for the uneducated, impoverished, and already marginalized inhabitants of the Wild Coast; but there has been a recurring theme of blatant government incompetence played out over the past few years at Hole in the Wall.

DEDEA is responsible for enforcement of permits and quotas, and MCM is responsible for the issuing of subsistence permits. But the 2 government departments don't know what the other is doing, and several times we have had cases of local fishermen being fined heavily for not being in possession of a permit, whereas they had not yet been issued.

Yesterday, a local fisherman by the name of David was caught by the 'Green Scorpions' for catching a 16kg kob (kabeljou). The fish was confiscated and he was issued a summons to appear in court next month, and, if what I heard is correct, he could face a fine of about R2,000 or more.

The absurd irony is that MCM only issued the permits today. And he was carrying his permit, which expired on the 31 December 2009, with him!

Believe me, issuing the permits by the 25'th of January is an amazing feat and HUGE improvement over previous years. Vuyisani Jozana from MCM has really played an incredible role in improving delivery of permits over the last year. His predecessor managed to deliver the permits for 2008 in October that year - whereas the crayfish season closes for 4 months at the end of October.

I truly believe it is wasteful of resources, counterproductive, and completely ridiculous to even think about registering each and every coastal inhabitant to allow them access to the fruit of their own back gardens; and resources could be much more effectively deployed simply enforcing quotas.

Year before last year one poor chap was fined R200 and his gaff was confiscated, for fishing for red-bait without a permit, because they hadn't been issued yet; and he hadn't even caught anything.

Sad really.

UPDATE 1 Feb '10: I have a scan of the fine, and the new permit which was issued to David the very next day. It's actually a R250 fine, but the fish alone is worth the same amount. If not more. R20 per kg is about the going rate. The 'officials' confiscated his old/expired permit along with the fish.

In any case, the ±R2000 fine discrepancy comes from the grapevine, and in fact David, who is one of the very few locals with a vehicle, pulled off the road across from the youth project rondavels just outside Coffee Bay, to have a pee, and received a R2,500 fine from the 'scorpions' for being off the demarcated road.

The issue is that he was temporarily 6 feet off the road, proper, and was parked on a track running parallel to the road, which is often used because it is less rocky. But besides all that, he would have had no way of knowing about "letter of the law" enforcement to that pedantic extent.

UPDATE 2 February 2009: It turns out that it is the self-same department that issued the fine to David. MCM "Compliance" have had 4 officials staying at the Hole in the Wall hotel for the past 2 weeks. They gave the fine to David on the Sunday, and they issued the new permits on the very next day.

Also, it's an 8kg kob, not 16kg as I heard previously. At R30 a kilo it's still worth almost the entire amount of the fine.

And, hmm, let me see: 4 rooms at R450 per night, times 14 days = 25,200 of tax payers money on this debacle. That's excluding daily S&T.

Our project rented a 4 bedroom house in Coffee Bay for an entire year for about the same amount. Very efficient use of tax payer resources, I must say.

And furthermore, MCM are supposed to be working with local communities to create co-management committees to enforce their own regulations and quotas. DEDEA is supposed to be the enforcement arm at provincial level. Why the duplication of effort?

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