Nothing fishy about reopening beaches, says KZN hotspot as it seeks clarity on regulations
The city of uMhlathuze, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, has opened its beaches for fishing purposes while it awaits final clarity on Covid-19 hotspot beach closure regulations, which it says are “open to interpretation”.
“While the city seeks further official clarity on this matter with all relevant departments concerned, beaches will be opened for fishing purposes only, with no time restrictions to all fishermen with valid fishing permits and exemptions - and upon satisfaction that they adhere to all health and safety protocols inclusive of the number of fishermen on the boat as stipulated on the permits and exemptions,” city spokesperson Mdu Ncalane said.
This follows criticism from locals that the initial fishing ban by the city ignored national regulations that permit fishing.
But Ncalane said the city acted on the instruction to close all its beaches since it is under the King Cetshwayo district municipality, which is one of the Covid-19 hotspots in KZN.
“The city has been in communication with the provincial and national departments of Cogta [co-operative governance & traditional affairs], economic development, tourism, and environment, forestry and fisheries to further clarify the regulation on this matter, noting that regulation 36.9 and 36.10 (b) is subject to different interpretations in terms of enforcement,” he explained.
Regulation 36.9 states that: “All beaches, dams, lakes and rivers, inclusive of all recreational facilities at these places, are closed to the public in all the areas declared as hotspots.”
Regulation 36.10 deals with all beaches in areas declared as non-hotspots, such as the Northern Cape. Its subsection 36.10 (b) reads: “The closure of beaches and restrictions on times of operation do not apply to fishermen for fishing purposes, who are in possession of a permit or exemption granted in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act.”
Ncalane said uMhlathuze fully supported all economic activities and would not prejudice licensed and approved fishermen who are embarking on their economic activity rights without any valid reason. However, he emphasised that the city wanted to ensure compliance with the government regulations.
He said Covid-19 protocols would still be applicable to anglers upon presenting themselves at all beaches. Alcohol would not be allowed and everyone would be subject to searches. Registration for contact tracing purposes, temperature checks and masks covering the mouth and the nose were still applicable to fishermen.
“The city will continue to enforce compliance at all times. Fishermen are urged to produce valid permits at the entrance points of all beaches under our jurisdiction,” he added.
Ncalane called on fishermen to also be considerate of the curfew period.
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