The fishing retail and wholesale industry is one of the few sectors trading in sport, outdoor and lifestyle goods that have a representative body to engage with Government through SAFTAD (representing the trade), as well as SACRAA (representing recreational anglers). They were therefore able to approach Government about relaxing restrictions on recreational fishing trade on behalf of retailers, their suppliers, as well as participants (seeCovid-19 relief letter SAFTAD and SACRAA).

This is perhaps a good time for members of the industry to reconsider reviving SASGAM as a representative body to officially engage with authorities. Especially all the retailers and wholesalers (distributors, importers and manufacturers) who are not represented on bodies like the Retail Liaison Group, the Clothing and Textile cluster, SAFLIA, etc. In the meantime, Sports Trader will convey the concerns and requests of our readers in the trade to whomever necessary (follow our blog for updates).

In their submission SACRAA points out that the industry “contributes in the region of R36-bn a year to the economy and provides for approximately 94 000 jobs,” according to the report Economic significance of recreational angling in South Africa published by the North-West University in 2017. And also that “Recovery from this for many, especially those from small and micro-businesses, is in serious jeopardy,” says SACRAA chairman John Pledger, referring to responses to the Sports Trader survey. “The industry is not seeking a complete lifting of sanctions but instead a controlled and measured reintegration into the economy.“

He also points out that fishing is “an activity [which is] for most by nature a solitary undertaking” and “extreme social distancing is the norm and can be easily applied.”

Many of the people will also be fishing to help feed their families, Pledger said.

SACRAA also pointed out the ambiguity of the hunting and fishing regulations as set out in level IV  Risk management, which allows “all fishing” and offered their assistance to clarify the ambiguity, should they require it.

They request that agents and distributors be allowed to trade with retail outlets and that retail outlets trading in fishing tackle to be allowed to trade under the following conditions:

  1. Receive online orders and package orders for on-site collection (minimal time spent inside shops).
  2. Shops to operate with a skeleton staff, on a rotational basis if necessary, to allow all staff a chance to work and earn a living; all staff to adhere to strict hygiene guidelines and to wear face masks.
  3. No more than five clients inside the shop at any one time, and all must wear face masks and sanitize hands before entering.

They also ask that anglers be allowed to engage in:

  1. Shore-based, inland lake, dam, estuarine or river fishing to be conducted either on an individual basis or more than one person together provided they already share a common household.
  2. Boat-based (sea or inland waters), to be conducted by a maximum two people per vessel (for safety) or more if those people already share a common household and it is possible to adhere to social distancing guidelines onboard.