Kalk Bay’s fishers battle to keep their heritage alive

Jacobus Poggenpoel’s family has been fishing for generations but tightening quotas are putting a strain on finances

By Liezl Human and Ashraf Hendricks

10 February 2022

The Poggenpoels are one of the oldest Kalk Bay fishing families. Jacobus Poggenpoel is a fifth generation fisher from the popular Cape Town beach suburb. The tradition started with his great-great-grandfather Dirk Poggenpoel. Dirk came to Kalk Bay in 1850, and he was a skipper during the whaling season.

Because of the Group Areas Act, Jacobus’s family moved from Kalk Bay to Steenberg in the 1970s. They now live in Retreat. His sons have since carried on with the family tradition. In the interim, Kalk Bay property has become extremely expensive and unaffordable for a family dependent on fishing.

Before the quotas began, the Poggenpoels only needed a license to fish. But over the past few years, fishers have been struggling due to quotas decreasing each year.

According to Jacobus’s son, Pierre, the first round of quotas allowed them to fish for 1,000 tons of pilchards and six tons of crayfish. In 2021, the quota was 120 tons of pilchard and 900kg of crayfish.

Jacobus is concerned that it isn’t sustainable to be a fisher anymore and that his children will not be able to carry on the tradition.

“This is my last year when I try and fight,” said Jacobus.