The Kalk Bay harbour community in the Western Cape has made headlines in light of recent controversies surrounding fishing licenses. Many permits have been revoked since the end of last year, leaving some fishermen with no source of alternative income. But despite the fact that small-scale fishermen earn a low income, they are committed to their trade. Their motto is, “One bite and you’re hooked.”
By RA’EESA PATHER.
” It’s about 10 years now that I’ve been a fishing buyer full time. It’s exciting for me. It’s different things every time. You meet different people, different customs, but most of all you learn to relate to other people. You learn how to communicate with different people in different ways, so it’s been fun for me. There’s a lot of different stories everyday. Everyday’s an adventure here. You have your on days and your off days, same like if you work in a company or stuff like that. But you see, here it’s like exploring. It’s a different diversity of life. You meet people that is less fortunate and then you meet people that is more fortunate than you, and you learn to interact with different types of people.” – Shafiek “Fikie” Isaacs
“We have people who come here everyday, like we have more fortunate people who come and buy the yellowtail and stuff like that. That’s a more expensive fish, like a 3 or 4 kilo fish will cost you R160, whereas a person that’s less fortunate would buy the bunches of fish which costs them like R15 a bunch but there’s five fish that’s on a bunch so that can feed a whole family.” – Shafiek “Fikie” Isaacs
“I’ve been on the sea since the age of about 14. My grandfather, my father, me and all my brothers, my sons and their sons – we’re all fishermen. I’m the skipper. I’ve got to look after his [the owner’s] boat. The boat and the crew is my responsibility.
Whatever goes wrong on the boat, when the boat falls, I’ve got to save it.” – Solly Solomons
“Who benefits from the fish? We’re bringing in food to the land, to the country, but what are we getting? The majority of the fishermen are born poor, they live poor, they die poor.” – Solly Solomons
“All that fish that fishermen bring out of the sea there means nothing to their lifestyle. The poor fisherman is shouting, ‘Why can’t we get a permit?’ But Sea Fisheries don’t know the fisherman. The boat owner’s name is there, and he’s a farmer, and a factory owner, and a doctor. He can afford to live without the permit. No fisherman’s name is there. That’s where the problem is. There’s no boat for them work on. The system there doesn’t accommodate the fisherman. Something must be done there.” – Solly Solomons