It’s no longer just a wish-Small scale fishers could soon give feedback to the SASSI assessments by the end of 2016.This was discussed at the 2016 Masifundise/Coastal Links AGM held at the Fountains Hotel in Cape Town on Thursday 28 of May.

Two representatives from the WWF-SA marine team attended one of the sessions that preceded the AGM. Mkhululi Silandela the WWF-SA manager for small scale producers updated the delegates about WWF-SA’s work of supporting small scale fishers to successfully implement the policy in Kleinmond.

If the WWF-SA and Masifundise/Coastal Links have their way, SASSI assessments will include workshops that will engage the fishers about the objectives of SASSI and how the assessments the species on which the livelihoods of the fishing communities depend.

“We would like the fishers to benefit from the tools that we have developed in Kleinmond to support the cooperatives when the small fisheries policy is implemented,” said Silandela.

Started in 2004, The WWF-SA SASSI’s key objectives are to ensure that fishing in South Africa is done according to the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA). This is done by means of consumer awareness to help shift their choices away from over exploited species.

The workshop and AGM was attended by 80 representatives, made up of Masifundise Board and staff members and fishers from four coastal provinces, including for the first time, delegates from in-land fishing communities.

Jessica Greenstone, the WWF-SA Marine Science & Policy Lead, provided background on the WWF-SASSI assessment process and made a proposal to the small scale fishing community. WWF-SASSI intends to assess several fish products fished primarily by SSF this year: harders, elf, yellowtail, and St. Joseph.  WWF-SASSI is interested to hold workshops with SSF in June and July to share information on these species.

“Through this process, WWF-SASSI also seeks to better understand how “human dimension” issues important to the SSF can be recognised by SASSI.”

Ms. Greenstone noted that the long-term interests of the WWF-SASSI and the SSF are well aligned:  they both seek fisheries resources to be well-managed and capable of providing for the livelihoods of coastal fishers. “The devil is in the details, however, and these proposed workshops are suggested as a first step to move the relationship forward,” said Greenstone.

Naseegh Jaffer, Masifundise Director, also queried the draft WWF-SASSI red-listing of WCRL and requested that WWF-SA delay the finalisation of this WCRL listing.

Ms. Greenstone noted that WWF-SA and DAFF have co-hosted several workshops addressed to the SASSI draft red-listing of WCRL and the parties have developed a Fishery Conservation Project.

Ms. Greenstone agreed to take the request back to WWF-SA and respond back to the SSF at a later date.  It was agreed that representatives of Coastal Links/Masifundise would coordinate with WWF-SA to discuss taking the workshops forward.

Commenting at the closing of the three hour presentation was Christian Adams the former chairperson of Coastal Links said “We will not allow any form of interference with our local traditional knowledge and the benefits we want to derive from the much awaited Small-Scale Fisheries Policy implementation. It is the right thing that SASSI and MDT are talking as we would like the playing fields to be level going forward.”

Closing off the discussions, Naseegh Jaffer emphasised the spirit of collaboration and the need and urgency to restore the fishing rights to the fishing communities.

”Five years ago the fishers would not allow SASSI to address this meeting, however, we are mindful of the fact that our rights are still not in place and talking to SASSI is an indication of our open mindedness to partnerships without negating the responsibility to restore our unfettered rights by means of the policy.”

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