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How COVID-19 outbreak affected S African fishermen by Barry Christianson March 24,2020   |  Source: Al Jazeera

Weeks before the first case of the new coronavirus was confirmed in South Africa, the fishermen at Steenberg's Cove had already felt the devastating effects of the outbreak.

A small fishing village in St Helena Bay, on the West Coast of South Africa, Steenberg's Cove is located some 150km (93 miles) from Cape Town.

Amid long-standing economic woes that stretch back decades, the members of the community in recent years have largely depended on small-scale fishing for their livelihoods, especially the four-month-long West Coast rock lobster (WCRL) harvesting season running from mid-November to mid-March.

However, the amount of WCRL allocated to the small-scale fishermen in the village decreases each year, falling to 64kg (141 pounds) in the current season from 86kg (190 pounds) in the year before, and resulting in a drop in income of more than $400.

According to Shamera Daniels, of the West Coast Rock Lobster Association, China imported 95 percent of South Africa's WCRL in the 2018-19 season.

But this year, as the coronavirus outbreak in China forced the shutdown of markets across the country, the small-scale fishermen at Steenberg's Cove were instructed by South African authorities to stop harvesting WCRL.

The members of the community found themselves without


© 2020 Al Jazeera Media Network

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