Fishers show how they harvest and prepare alikreukel, figs and kelp

On 11 February, six Coastal Links South Africa members from the Eastern Cape embarked on an exchange visit to Buffeljagsbaai in the Western Cape. This was the first exchange visit for CLSA in 2016 and it set a very high standard for the visits to follow. CLSA chairperson, Christian Adams, who accompanied the fishers, writes about the experience.

The day started with a drive to the town of Buffeljagsbaai from Cape Town. Upon our arrival the fisherfolk were welcomed by the sweet voices of the local crèche children, this was followed by a walk around the town and to the harbour.

At the harbour we were surprised with a boat arriving after harvesting and lo and behold they started offloading abalone, which is a high value shellfish species. We were surprised by the manner in which we were able to openly engage the Fishery Control Officer, although it was evident that the status quo still remains and that a lot of capacity building and education still needed to be done. It was an experience that set the tone for what was to follow.

Our day continued with lunch and further discussion and exchange of ideas. Our lunch was out of this world and all the food on the plate came from the surrounding areas and apart from the hake, the abalone was locally harvested by small-scale fishers, the alikreukel also local and harvested by both men and women, homemade bread with homemade locally harvested sour fig jam. A treat indeed and a first time for many of our guests, from the European Union Delegation, accompanying us.

We continued our day with a visit to the neighbouring town of Arniston and were exposed to the multiple opportunities that can arise with the implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy. One such opportunity exists within the accommodation industry and yet again countless ideas were exchanged between fishers from the differing provinces. We made our way back to Buffeljagsbaai where we had our excellent dinner whilst listening to the President delivering his SONA. If it wasn’t for the dinner we would’ve gone to bed very depressed.

We were hosted locally and made use of accommodation provided by local families. A dream setting to go to bed to, falling asleep whilst listening to the sea water, with no cars driving around to spoil the sound of waves breaking against the rocks.

After a good night’s rest our day started with another excellent meal and as always vibrant discussion on how this exchange will change things for the better in our respective communities.

Then we got down to business and a demonstration was done by the Buffeljagsbaai fishers on how they harvest, process and pack a number of species, both from the forest as well as the ocean. We witnessed the procedure in three different species, kelp, alikreukel and sour figs. The kelp was dried in the sun, chopped into smaller pieces and packed into bags to be sold to the Abalone Farms.

The alikreukel were harvested by hand, cooked, then cut and was pickled with different spices. This can be stored for months and can be used during bad weather days to provide food and can also be sold onto the local market. The sour figs were harvested by a group of 30 persons and the processing done by four persons.

The harvested figs are cooked on a slow heat with water and sugar. This is allowed to cool down and this mixture turns into jam, which is then scooped into pots for supplying the local market.  Abalone was high on the agenda as well, due to the high abundance in the wild as well as two Abalone Farms in the community. This gave us some insight as to how the industry is encroaching upon our land and ocean. This got the discussion going on projects like these that are proposed for community upliftment but actually contribute to further dispossession in many instances.

Below are some of the comments from participants.

Ntsindiso Nongcavu from the Eastern Cape said that, it was good that this exchange happened as it strengthens unity amongst the fishers.

“We are happy that we were able to see what other coastal communities are doing with their resources, this shows that we can also do something in our communities.

“I have learnt a lot from this exchange trip, I now can go back to my community and show them what we have learnt, I take home a lot of knowledge and I am overwhelmed by how the community of Buffeljagsbaai have taken matters into their own hands” commented Zingisa Ludude.

Ayanda Yekani, from Hamburg said that the exchange opened his mind and increased his knowledge, “This is empowering and encourages fishers to communicate with each other, we can now say come up with ideas where communities from Hamburg can exchange products with communities in Buffeljagsbaai.”.

I want to thank the community of Buffeljagsbaai for welcoming and hosting us in their community. We were spoilt with quality and were treated as royalty, we wish the community all the best in their future endeavours and sincerely hope that through the implementation of the SSF-Policy, their dreams of a secured future, a vibrant community and a well-established local economy will be realised.

A special thanks must go to Sarah Niemand and her family for their dedication to the success of this project.

Coastal Links SA, National Chairperson

Christian Adams

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial