SHOWING their solidarity over the restrictions placed on subsistence fishers, the Durban fisherfolk community staged a walk on Saturday from Snake Park to uShaka.
According to the organisers of the walk, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), fisherfolk have limited access and in some instances are denied access to North and South Piers on the beachfront because of the laws surrounding access to piers.
“Many fisherfolk depend on fishing as their source of livelihood. Fisherfolk feed their families and run their households on the money they earn from selling fish. The fisherfolk are also fighting against the harmful developments that are being proposed or currently being done by government and developers alike. Some of these include the proposed desalination plant in the Bluff by Hitachi Technologies, proposed sandwinning of the ocean sea bed by Transnet, 2D and 3D seismic testing in our oceans by Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) and the proposed offshore oil and gas drilling on Block ER236 of the East Coast,” said SDCEA’s Desmond D’Sa.
The environmental group also raised concerns over Operation Phakisa, a government initiative which aims to tap into the economic potential of South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone. One of the many objectives of Operation Phakisa is to locate and drill a target of 30 exploration wells before 2024. SDCEA alleges that drilling for oil and gas in the Indian Ocean is going to place major restrictions on fisherfolk, which the government has failed to take into consideration. There are about 12000 subsistence fisherfolk in Durban and their livelihood will be jeopardized if Sasol and Eni get permission to drill on the beautiful coast of KwaZulu-Natal.
“All of these developments have or will have a drastic effect on the subsistence fishermen of Durban, who make a livelihood from the Indian Ocean. Currently fisherfolk are enjoying the best season with sardines and other game fish arriving in abundance all along the Indian Ocean coastline, after many years of the international trawlers from China, Taiwan, Korea, Norway and other countries illegally plundering our resources. It took the combine effort of the KZN fishing community and the SDCEA to raise the alarm and put pressure before the responsible fisheries department acted. The fisherfolk of Durban want their voices to be heard, they are tired of being overlooked by the government, and they are tired of being victimised and discriminated against because they are trying to make an honest living,” concluded D’Sa.
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