19 August 2015
An intergovernmental dispute with National Government, over the management of the 12 fishing harbours in the Western Cape, is being initiated by the provincial government.
“We are doing this because harbours play a critical role in creating jobs and attracting investment,” says Helen Zille, the premier of the Western Cape.
The Western Cape accounts for 71% of employment in the fishing industry nationally.
This impact is seen in areas such as the northern part of the Saldanha Bay Harbour, which is a regional hub of fishing activity. The Sea Harvest processing plant is the largest employer in Saldanha Bay, responsible for between 4 000 and 5 000 direct and indirect jobs.
Harbours also play a critical role in creating jobs through tourism. A study prepared for the Western Cape Government shows that the most unique potential role of harbours within the tourism value chain is in terms of marine access, with specific opportunities including:
Charters and specialist boat trips, Whale watching, adventure, nature, game fishing, shark cage diving, island trips, cuisine and entertainment.
“Thousands of Western Cape families, through fishermen and women, rely on this sector for their livelihoods. When the harbours are in working order, people have jobs,” added Zille.
“When we assumed office in 2009, our government immediately sought to resolve the long standing problem of the 12 fishing harbours, and their gross mismanagement which costs our economy jobs, and fisherman their livelihoods.
Over the last few years, the serious degradation of these public assets has negatively impacted socio-economic opportunities in the fishing, aquaculture and tourism sectors.
Over the years, we have continuously pointed that it is unconstitutional for these harbours to be under national government’s control.
The Constitution – under Schedule 4 – places the management of harbours under local government authority. Several legal opinions and government reports attest to this.
This means that, in the case of Kalk Bay Harbour, the City of Cape Town should be managing this facility and not National Government. The same goes for the other harbours and their respective municipalities.
For the 12 fishing harbours to be upgraded and professionally run, we maintain that the management thereof should be transferred to local government.
For example, today in Kalk Bay, I know that there are only three fulltime members of staff at the site – one facility manager and her two assistants. This site does not even have 24 hour security.
This has opened up the facility and the nearby beach, to vandalism and criminal activity.
When key sites are neglected like this one, and many others have been, investors and businesses are weary to invest in our economy. This means we lose jobs and ultimately local families suffer. The same goes for the rest of the municipalities with fishing harbours within their borders,” concluded Zille .