For many of the fishers, selling their catch is their main source of income. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Durban fishermen up in arms over fishing ban at city piers

Fishers in KwaZulu-Natal are protesting a ban that is prohibiting them from fishing at certain piers in Durban.


For many of the fishers, selling their catch is their main source of income. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Fishers have been denied access to Durban beachfront piers since 2009, when renovations started for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, says the South Durban Environmental Alliance (SDEA).

This has sparked outrage among fishers across KZN, who want to reclaim these spaces.

In late December 2023, eThekwini Municipality released a statement, prohibiting fishing at Bay, North and Dairy Beach piers, noting “terrible abuse.”

“The various by-law transgressions noted include littering, public drinking, drug abuse, assault occurring between the fishermen, sleeping at the piers, the burning of fires and the assault of surfers with fishing equipment,” the Municipality said.

Fishers march through Durban

On 1 May around 100 fishers and their families marched from the Suncoast beach promenade to the Durban Amphitheatre.

The group demanded that the Municipality grant them access to traditional fishing piers and put an end to harassment by security and police officers.

For many of these fishers – who often fish at night due to the demands of day jobs – selling their catch is their main source of income.

The protest was organised by the SDEA and the KZN Subsistence Fishing Forum. The Forum claims to have more than 25 000 members, from Hluhluwe to Port Edward.

The only accredited fishing spot for subsistence fishing is at piers between Snake Park and Blue Lagoon. Fishers have been battling the elements at this location and say that it is not an ideal place to fish.

“The place has too much sand,” Jefferey Naicker, 71, who has been fishing for 60 years, told GroundUp.

“All we want is to be allowed to fish and continue to make a living.”

Chairman of the Forum, John Peter Narayanasamy, said that during low tide, fishing at Snake Park was near impossible.

“And when the tide is in, the water crashes over the pier, posing a threat to one’s safety. It also drenches the fisherfolk and washes away their belongings.”

He emphasised how pier fishing allowed fishers to cast their lines into deeper waters and catch a larger variety of fish.

City claims further non-compliance from fishers

However, Parks, Recreation and Culture Senior Manager Nomusa Ntshangase at eThekwini Municipality said the ban was also in response to fishermen not being compliant with the National Environmental Management Act.

“They had no valid licences, were catching undersized fish, and exceeding the bag limit,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment said a Durban Bay Environmental Monitoring Committee had been established and is looking into the fishers’ grievances.