Coastal Links South Africa

Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA)


Coastal links (CL) is a mass based community organization that was established in 2003, with structures in the Western and Northern Cape. Coastal Links was established as a vehicle for small-scale fishers to secure their livelihoods and overall human rights.

Its work over the years centred on;

  • Campaigning for legislation that serves the interest of small-scale fishers
  • Empowering people in the sector with skills and knowledge
  • Promoting participative fishing governance arrangements
  • Protecting fishing resources and the broader environment

In 2010, Coastal Links, together with its partner Masifundise, embarked on a National Footprint campaign, setting up structures in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal. This eventually led to the November 2012 launch of Coastal Links South Africa.

CLSA has over 2 000 members, spread across 89 coastal towns in four provinces. It has provincial, regional, sub-regional and branch structures. Each region has established branches and each branch has a committee with elected officials who represent them on the regional committee. A region elects a regional secretary, chairperson and co-ordinator. The regional chairpersons and co-ordinators collectively form the coastal links executive committee.

Some of the work of Coastal Links in 2012, included:

  • Strengthening the institutional capacity of coastal links by organising educational exchange programmes between branches and expanding communication systems.
  • Strengthening the role of women and youth in small-scale fisheries through empowerment programmes.
  • Embarking on mass campaigns pressuring government to adopt and implement the proposed policies and procedures.
  • Pressing that fishers have controlled access to Marine Protected areas (MPA’s) and are integrated into processes related to the establishment and management of MPA.

Coastal Links is funded by Masifundise development trust (MDT), an NGO that promotes sustainable livelihoods for small-scale fishers.

CLSA Going Forward

According to its launch resolutions, CLSA will continue focusing on critical areas of work such as poverty alleviation, protecting marine resources, co-management of fisheries, implementing the small-scale fisheries policy, promoting human rights and strengthening Coastal Links.

In addition, the organisation will give attention to the following;

  • The threat of privatisation of coastal land that limits access to the sea
  • Asserting the communal and customary rights of fishers
  • building solidarity among small-scale fishers in South Africa
  • campaigning for an assessment based implementation plan of the new policy
  • ensure the recognition,  protection and development of traditional fishing practices
  • promote gender equity and recognise the role of women and youth in this sector
  • work towards building strong relationships with government and government agencies to ensure that fishing communities participate in co-management
  • strengthen local branches and to disseminate information about the policy at branch level
  • actively campaign prepare for the implementation of the policy at a local level
  • campaign for an improved exemption allocation until such time as the policy is implemented
  • take up any local campaigns that impact on livelihoods and the rights of communities


For small-scale fishers, fishing is primarily to provide for their families. According to the traditions that have been in place for many generations, small-scale fishers have a strong spiritual connection to the sea and will and are affirming their rights to continue fishing as a way of life.  Small-Scale fishers have been custodians of the fishing resources and affirming their rights to manage them is for the benefit of their future generations.

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