The Western Cape High Court has ruled in favour of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) petition to reduce the total allowable catch of West Coast rock lobster.

The court stated that last season’s Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 1 924.08 tons was “unsustainably high” and is not aligned with the Constitution, the National Environmental Management Atc and the Marine Living Resource Act.

After the plight to bring the unsustainable catching of West Coast rock lobster to the attention of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the WWF has made a positive stride in ensuring the conservation of these crustaceans and possibly save them from extinction.

The High Court ruled that the West Coast rock lobster TAC for the 2017/18 fishing season is inconsistent with the Constitution as read with Section 2 of the National Environmental Management Act 107 on 1998, as well as Section 2 of the Marine Living Resources Act 18 of 1998. Thereafter, it was declared invalid.

It was found that the DAFF had failed to uphold its legal mandate to ensure conservation of South Africa’s marine life, and that the Deputy Director General failed to acknowledge the scientific evidence that reflected that the TAC should be lowered to prevent the extinction of the rock lobster.

The WWF has declared that the West Coast rock lobster is near close to extinction due to the high levels of fishing.

“The sad reality is that the West Coast rock lobster resource has declined dramatically over the last 50 years as a result of overfishing, to the point where it is approximately only 1.9% of its original pre-fished stock size,” said WWF.

The extremely low numbers of the species left will have a negative impact on the socio-economic industries that are connected to the fishing of the West Coast rock lobster. The WWF hopes that the impact of the court ruling will ensure that DAFF  reduces the next season’s TAC to ensure that the rock lobster is given time to recover in numbers.

“We further urge DAFF to waste no time in implementing a meaningful fishery recovery plan with firm action against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” said WWF.

Facts on West Coast rock lobsters 

-West Coast rock lobsters grow very slowly and can live up to the age of 50 years.

-They are carnivorous and feed off mussels, urchins, starfish and abalone.

-It is commonly known as ‘kreef’ or ‘crayfish’.

-In 2017, the West Coast Rock lobster was placed on the WWF SASSI red list and marked as endangered.

Find out more about the petition to bring about the dire need to save the marine species being an ongoing battle.

Picture: WWF/ West Coast Rock Lobster

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