The mainstreaming of the small-scale fishing sector and the implementation of the new policy can enhance food security and generate increased foreign revenue through exports. So said Craig Smith, Director for Small-Scale Fisheries Management in the Fisheries Management Branch of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

“Co-operatives working closely with government have the potential to reduce illegal harvesting and thereby increasing resources for the benefit of all, “said Smith. Smith said most of the preparatory work for implementation has been concluded, and that the president had signed the promulgation to the Amended Marine Living Resources Act.

“We are now able to publish the approved Regulations, make the final call for communities to register their expression of interest, and to announce the community visitation schedule. He said the verification process in communities could start before the end of March 2016. Mr Smith said that the implementation will consist of a single roll-out that will happen over a period, but that there will be pilot rollouts in one or two communities per region, before a full-scale roll-out will happen a week or two later.

The verification process will be used to identify small-scale fishers in small-scale fishing communities. Up to this stage more than 270 communities have already registered, but the process for communities to register with the Department is still open. At this stage, fishers do not have to register, only communities have to register, and once a community is verified, the fishers linked to the community will have to register as members of the fishing community.

Members of fishing communities wishing to become part of their fishing communities must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a South African citizen
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Must reside in the community
  • Must have 10 years accumulated experience in fishing
  • Must be dependent on marine living resources for their livelihoods Smith said it did not matter where people live, whether they live in coastal communities, or towns away from the coast, as long as they meet the above criteria, and that fishing communities can be established in non-coastal towns, as long as there are enough fishers in the fishing communities.

It would be advised that the non-coastal towns register a separate expression of interest. However, it should be remembered that if the coastal town does not have twenty or moreverified small-scale fishers, it will not be considered as a small-scale fishing community.”

Smith said that the service providers will be responsible for: “Registration, verification, baseline studies, providing livelihood reports, provide training and assist co-ops to apply for fishing rights.”

“The fishing community registration will close after thirty days of the Regulations being published. Fishers will only have the one day to register when the Department visits the respective community that registered with the department.” Smith said that more resources would be apportioned to the small-scale fishing sector than the commercial sector.

He believed that it was important that fishers should now make sure that their community submit expressions of interest. Check DAFF’s website to see if their communities are indeed registered (www. Fishers must also ensure that they are in possession of valid ID documents.

“They should start thinking about their ten years of fishing history, including all the relevant details that go with their history, for example, the name of the vessel/s they worked on, skipper/s name/s, contact numbers of people that can verify their story, nature of their fishing history.” “It would be important to work with the service providers, the fishing communities, fisher organisations and DAFF.”

Smith said the small scale fishing policy provided fishers and fishing communities with a range of benefits that include:

  • Legal access to a basket of marine resources
  • Food security
  • A hub for commercial fishing
  • Diversification of skills eg processing, marketing, eco-tourism etc
  • Increase in jobs within the community • Government support Smith said there would be teething problems as with anything, but that the department would address them.

The process to implement the policy is now gaining momentum and Department has started visiting communities to identify and verify communities so to register them for the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy.

Currently the Department is travelling around the Western Cape visiting communities who had submitted their forms of Expression.

The submission of Interest of Expression form closed on the 7th of April and the verification process kicked in a week after in the Western Cape.

Masifundise Development Trust and Coastal Links SA are grateful for the implementation process kicking off, and wish all the fishers and fishing communities well in participating in the process.

“For those communities that registered last minute ‘Expression of Interest Forms’, we hope that they will be accommodated and the small-scale fishing family of South Africa will all contribute to make the policy implementation successful” Sithembiso Gwaza of Masifundise had said.

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