Masifundise held a long-awaited virtual meeting with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries on 8 October to address various obstacles holding up the cooperative registration process.
The meeting was a result of many engagements with small-scale fishing communities highlighting their plight as fishers. The meeting sought to provide clarity on the Western Cape cooperative registration and audit processes as well as a number of unresolved issues within the small-scale fisheries sector.
Despite protests by Western Cape coastal communities the cooperative registration process has continued. Deputy Director of DEFF, Abongile Ngqongwa highlighted that although the audit processes had not concluded registration would continue in order to allow fishing rights allocations to occur.
“Once the audit outcomes are completed, those left out will be included in the cooperatives as bona-fide fishers. However, this will include a legal process to be conducted by the Minister for this inclusion, added Ngqongwa.
This legal process could potentially take months further marginalising fishers and stalling their inclusion into a cooperative. The Department was unable to confirm the date for the release of the audit outcomes.
The Department was also unable to answer questions regarding why permit lists in eMpembeni KZN only included 55 names, yet the cooperative consisted of 143 members.
Masifundise will continue to engage with DEFF in order to resolve the issues surrounding cooperatives and audit processes.
Masifundise hosted a meeting of leaders from fishing communities across the Western Cape at the end of September where they outlined the various challenges in the registration process. This meeting was attended by Masifundise, 15 coastal leaders and Wilmien Wicomb from the Legal Resource Centre who are assisted in providing in depth legal knowledge to support excluded fishers.