Fishers in Buffelsjagbaai on the South Coast of the Western Cape have set up three co-operatives that have been doing well and could in the future become strong business entities for about 30 members of the community.
Sarah Niemand, the chairperson of the local Coastal Links SA branch in Buffelsjagbaai said that the three co-operatives – Blinkwater Co-operative, Stilwater Co-operative and Blouwater Co-operative – are all primary co-operatives doing the same kind of business.
“All three co-operatives are involved in fishing, landscaping, aquaculture, mariculture and arts and crafts,” said Niemand.
She said that the co-operatives have been quiet for the last few years since its inception, because there was some confusion regarding co-operatives and the small-scale fisheries policy.
“After we formed our co-operatives we learnt that the department was not going to recognise our co-operatives that we have already formed, so we stopped.”
She said that however, they decided recently to activate their co-operatives and they started to work with white mussel, crayfish and forestry work.
“We also started working with the local municipality, and their local economic development (LED) department took us through some programmes.”
“Blinkwater Co-operative, through the LED has been able to raise funds for equipment through the Department of Land Affairs and Rural Development. The LED has also arranged for a company, Abe Gold to help Stilwater Co-operative to make jewellery out of abalone shells,” she said.
Another development is that Blouwater Co-operative has been involved in making jams and other pickled products from seafood.
Niemand say that through this work, they have been attending many community shows where they have been invited to come and showcase their products.
“We did a presentation at the Arabella Golf Club and Guesthouse in Kleinmond about the products we make through the co-operative and how we can take it forward.”
They also made presentations to the Whale Coast and White Shark Project, business that take tourists out to sea to go and watch whales and sharks and do underwater shark cage diving.
“They arranged for a day tour of their tourists to Blouwater Co-operative and our ‘little seafood restaurant’ where the tourists could view and buy our products and food,” she told The Hook.
Niemand say that she is quite excited about the possibilities that exist for their co-operatives, and the past few months they have made presentations to the top leadership in some companies that can be of help to them in the future.
In The Hook, we also previously reported on the strides the Buffelsjagbaai co-operatives are making at various cheese and wine festivals in and around Cape Town and the South Coast towns.
Buffelsjagbaai have 10 co-operatives that consist of the local fishing community and includes women, men, youth and the disabled.
Niemand said that they have also applied for government funding for their co-operatives, and hope that it would help them in becoming successful.