Trout lobbyists seek clarity

TROUT lobbyists believe the industry is being kept out of the loop from what they deem a core part of protecting their future — mapping the areas where trout exist.

The Federation of South African Flyfishers (Fosaf) has appealed to the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs to intervene as they believe they are being excluded from the mapping process.

This is a crucial part in the process for the future of the trout industry.

According to a joint letter seen by The Witness and sent to KZN MEC, Mike Mabuyakhulu, last week by Fosaf and Trout SA, they said they were concerned that “despite agreeing to finalise these maps” together with the [national] Department of Environmental Affairs [DEA], they have now been “excluded”.

The letter alleges that the department has since produced maps on trout location that they have not been privy too.

The letter was sent in an effort to get the provincial department to put pressure on the DEA on their behalf to gain access to the mapping process.

In 2014 trout was, along with several hundred other species and plants, gazetted as invasive by the DEA.

However, with trout in almost all nine provinces, and economies built around them, lobby groups managed to have existing trout habitats deemed “green zones” and included into Operation Phakisa. The latter is a presidential-led campaign to monetise the country’s maritime resources at sea and inland, and to create jobs.

The DEA is now currently in a process of mapping the green zones.

Fosaf’s Ilan Lax said it was imperative that the industry was involved in the mapping process as they were better positioned to say where the fish exist.

“We have fishermen across the province every weekend at various locations. We know where the fish live better than anyone else.

"In October 2014 we had agreed to share maps with the DEA as there was a difference between which areas we throught trout occurred and where they thought they are and weren’t. Our belief is that where trout are they will stay and where they aren’t they will be declared invasive.

But since then we have been given nothing in return. We need clarity as it is affecting businesses that rely on this industry and it is affecting growth, investment and jobs. This is a multi-billion rand industry and it needs stability,” said Lax.