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Settlement agreement on the horizon for fishermen

Minister Senzeni Zokwana will announce decisions on appeals lodged against a 2013 rights allocation process.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana will today announce decisions on appeals lodged against the disastrous 2013 fishing rights allocation process.

Many former rights holders were excluded when new permits were awarded for eight fishing sectors two years ago.

Last year, Zokwana's predecessor Tina Joemat-Pettersson announced her decision to set aside the entire process, but this has not happened because only a court can legally do so.

The South African Commercial Linefish Association took the former Minister to court over the exclusion of previous rights holders.

The Western Cape High Court last year granted the excluded fishermen permission to continue working, pending the outcome of a full legal review.

The association's Wally Croome believes a settlement agreement could be on the horizon.

"I believe that there is a proposal that the minister has approved and we are waiting for the proposal to see what they have to offer."

Zokwana could shed light on the way forward for the linefish sector and announce decisions on appeals in three other fishing sectors.

Meanwhile, the Public Protector is probing allegations of maladministration around the 2013 rights allocation process.

Two reports, commissioned by the ministry found some applicants who failed to meet the qualifying criteria were issued rights, because officials were instructed to approve their applications.