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Fishing rights allocation process scrapped

The move means that licences for eight fishing sectors will have to be reissued.

Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson on Thursday announced that the most recent fishing rights allocation process was flawed and would be scrapped.

This means that licences for eight fishing sectors will have to be reissued.

The minister had asked for an independent audit of the controversial 2013 allocation process after many in the industry complained.

This is a major development in the industry.

Joemat-Pettersson says while the audit report showed there was no evidence of corruption in the allocation process, mistakes were made.

In a pre-emptive move to avoid a costly legal battle, she decided to set aside the entire process.

Department spokesperson Lionel Adendorf says, "The department understands the enormity of the project and we are serious about making sure that the process is flawless."

In the meantime, those who were allocated rights can continue fishing for now while unsuccessful applicants can apply for exemptions, so they too can continue working.

Various areas in the Western Cape have been hard hit by the contested allocation of fishing rights.

Coastal Links, an organisation representing fishermen in the West Coast town of Paternoster, say its members have no faith in the current government.

Around 250 licences where awarded to fishermen at the beginning of the year, even though more than 1,560 applied in the traditional line-fishing sector.

Earlier this year, Hout Bay fishermen protested against the allocations.