According to the press the residents of the small fishing village of Buffeljags on the Western Cape’s Overberg is being left destitute due to yet another fishing rights dispute.
A flagship seaweed business, Buffeljags Marine, has created more than 30 jobs in the area, but this week the community lost their harvesting rights after the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) did not renew its 10-year rights allocation. The rights are now to be transferred into a yet-to-be-established small-scale community fishing sector.
The result is that the employees of Buffeljags Marine will no longer be paid as business has come to a standstill. Adding to their woes, the local crèche, which is funded by the seaweed income, is now also facing closure.
Johnny van der Bergh, director of Buffeljags Marine says, “There is no other income for us here. It’s not like around here one can go and look for a job in construction.”
The standstill also threatens the only other major business in the town, the abalone farms that buy the kelp harvest.
The department’s director of small-scale fishing, Craig Smith, said that Buffeljags Marine had applied for an exemption and that it was currently under consideration.
The police made another big bust last week, arresting four suspected lobster poachers found in possession of lobster and lobster tails.
According to the press, the four men appeared before the Gordon’s Bay Magistrates Court last week on charges relating to the Marine Living Resources Act.