Equality Court Case

Despite the promulgation of the South African Constitution and Bill of Rights contained therein poor traditional fisher and coastal communities have experienced an erosion of their fundamental rights. The policy and legislation implemented by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to manage the allocation of fishing rights in South Africa has left the majority of traditional fishers destitute, with resulting impacts on the levels of poverty, food security and possibilities for sustainable livelihoods in coastal villages. The right to access marine resources has now become a privilege that a few commercial companies enjoy and has left poor traditional fishing communities with no access to the fundamental rights to equitable access to marine and other natural coastal resources, food security and sustainable livelihoods. Through Section 18 (1) of the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA) of 1998 the Minister has effectively excluded artisanal fishers by only catering for subsistence, recreational and commercial fisheries.
In order to address this exclusion, fisher communities in the Western Cape, with the support of Masifundise , the Artisanal Fishers Association of South Africa and the Legal Resource Centre, launched a class action litigation against the Minister concerned. The respondents have brought this class action in both the Equality Court and the High Court (SCA Case no: 437/2005 Equality Court no: EC1/2005f).

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