HUNDREDS of Eastern Cape families who rely on the sea for a living have lost their rights to fish commercially. It is a devastating blow for most of them, for whom fishing is their only source of income. Out of a total of 3490 applicants nationally, only 593 received fishing rights for, among other species, traditional linefish, hake (handline) and squid.
To make matters worse, the unsuccessful fishermen only heard from the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department that they would not be getting new licences on the same day as their existing permits expired
The permits expired on Tuesday night.
At least 30 boats in the Port Elizabeth region, with an average of seven to eight fishermen working on each, are docked at the Port Elizabeth, St Francis and Port Alfred harbours with their crews destitute. And this at a time of the year when the fishing season, especially for geelbek, traditionally booms in Eastern Cape waters.
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