Paternoster is a quaint fishing village on the west coast of South Africa. It has become a favoured holiday location for many Capetonians and the old fishing cottages have become hard to find amidst the newly developed holiday homes. The new ‘village’ fits in comfortably with the old insofar as the style of architecture is concerned; the cottages all reflect the style of the traditional Cape fisherman’s homes.
Even today the people of this 1500-soul village livelihood revolves around fishing. The main catches are snoek and crayfish or "West Coast Lobster”. The fishermen have fallen on hard times since the introduction of the crayfish season (Nov to April) and the quota system. Many local men ply the beach area tempting visitors with fresh crayfish, which have been caught illegally. The penalty for buying these crustaceans is severe, fines are high and cars transporting the goods (even if it is only one) can be impounded.
Once regarded as a pest, when they caught them in their nets fishermen would simply toss them overboard. Wagon-loads of dead crayfish were collected and sold to farmers as fertiliser. It was only when markets abroad, France in particular, where they knew a thing or two about good food, started to show an increasing interest in crayfish that fishermen began to can the product from 1890 onwards.
The popularity of the crayfish now means their dwindling numbers have to be controlled, through strict quotas and seasons. - Rosemary Walden's Photos