Yesterday, at 11am, some 20 fishers without fishing cards met with the Wakashio Crisis Committee presided by Charles Cartier. They came from Vieux Grand Port, Ville Noire and Cite La Chaux. For 3 months, with the Wakashio oil spill, fishers without cards have not had any means to wreak a living. The government announced that fishers without cards, like those with fishing cards, will get a monthly allowance of Rs10,200. Yet 3 months later, fishers without fishing cards have not received this allowance yet. For more informations, click or copy https://www.lalitmauritius.org/en/newsarticle/2670/wakashio-oil-spill-fishers-of-vieux-grand-port-continue-mobilising/
The Fishing Minister came to Mahebourg on Monday 28th September to explain that a first batch of fishers without cards had received their allowance, but that when checks were made, several of them were found to be employees in other work sectors. So the next batch of allowance payments was retarded so that checks and verifications could be made before allowances are paid.
The Committee had several proposals to make in the short term, medium term and long term:
1. That a fast track system be instituted so that checks and verifications take a minimum amount of time. Fishers without cards pointed out that the State was able provide an allowance of Rs5,100 to all self-employed people very quickly during the lockdown which means that the State has the capacity to make checks and verifications very quickly when it wants to;
2. That an appeal system be instituted so that fishers who do not get the allowance know exactly why they were refused an allowance, and can clear up any bureaucratic mess-ups, if any. A few fishers present gave testimony on how their applications for a fishing card was in the physical book, but not on the system, for instance. Another fisher present explained how in their area, there is no fisheries station, so a fishing officer comes once in a while to record who is fishing in the area. This officer is not able to meet all fishers in the area. Which sometimes means that the fisheries section of the Ministry does not recognise fishers who actually fish;
3. That in the period when fishers are given the Rs10,200 allowance, that fishing courses be organised in the area, or if this is not possible, that more courses be organised at the Pointe aux Sables fishing school which is part of the process towards getting a fishing card;
4. That fishers between 50 and 60 years not be excluded from fishing cards if they had applied for fishing cards before the age of 50 as is the present Fishing Ministry practice;
5. That the government include a clause for clean-up contractors to employ fishers, that contractors respect sanitary regulations limiting work hours when working in the oil spill area and that sub-contractors be made to respect these clauses too.
The Joint Committee also explained the need for the government to set up the necessary infrastructure for a real fishing industry to develop in the South East region.