On Wednesday, 25th of October 2017, fishers from Port Nolloth and Hondeklipbaai met with the MEC for Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development (NC-DALRRD), Mr Norman Shushu, to discuss a way forward to fix up and transfer boats given to them by the department. The MEC explained that the Province viewed the livelihood needs of the fishers as a key part of their rural development agenda even though fisheries is still not integrated into their strategic development focus.
Fishers welcomed this initiative from NC-DALRRD, but they also expressed their ability to manage their own boats and fishery, if they are given the right and opportunity to do so, calling for fishers to be allowed to get their own boats ready and seaworthy, as they do not want just to wait on government to finance the fixing of the boats. Indeed, given their experience with the delays in the implementation of the SSF policy, fishers fear that government’s procedures and bureaucracy will result in years of wait. Fishers also expressed their concerns around the fate of the youth involved in fishing.
In response to questions raised from the floor, the NC-DALRRD MEC agreed to ensure that the needs of young fishers become integrated into the department’s focus on youth in rural development. The Port Nolloth CL Branch view the visit of the MEC as a direct outcome of meetings they have had with the Municipal Manager of Richtersveld Municipality planned in the Action Plan developed in the CL NC Provincial meeting in early October.
On Thursday, 26 October 2017, CL Northern Cape organized a Provincial Round Table, to discuss the impact of mining or their fishing activities and livelihoods. Mining came up as a major challenge that fishers in the Northern Cape face. The Roundtable was attended by about 25 fishers from Port Nolloth and Hondeklipbaai, mostly small-scale fishers, but also a few near-shore small-scale fishers from Port Nolloth. In attendance were also an official of the Northern Cape Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (Ernst Meissenheimer), the Fisheries Compliance Office of DAFF in the Northern Cape (Cornelius Mfenyana), an official from the Richterveld Municipality (Alta Kotze), Pastor Bertus de Jager of the Shalom Church and George Smith of the AGS Church.
While the meeting was not well attended by invited stakeholder, the Roundtable is another key step in the new approach promoted by CL in the Northern Cape that sees CL members strategizing and planning together to address key obstacles that impact negatively on their livelihoods and coastal environment. Way forward decided in the meeting includes a follow up meeting with the mines and follow-up Round Table to establish a management structure to monitor usage and maintenance of boats donated by the Province. This Round Table will be prioritized so that the boats can hit the water as soon as transferred into a legal entity/entities.