It has been more than two weeks of silence since the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Coastal Links leadership tabled a letter to the Isimangaliso Wetland Authorities and the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) regarding concerns of a lack of community consultation in their proposed Integrated Management Plan (IMP).

In the letter small-scale fishers called for an extension of the public participation and comments period of the IMP as well as an urgent engagement with Isimangaliso and DEFF on the lack of recognition for customary rights of small-scale fishers in the IMP.

The blatant disregard for the human and customary rights of fishers in the content of the IMP as well as the consultation process is hugely problematic as it ignores co-management and seeks to exclude fishers and threaten their livelihoods.

Local communities continue to fail to reap the benefits of protected natural resources and are constantly left out of decision-making processes. The planning, management and execution of the IMP’s must be all encompassing of local communities and indigenous knowledge.

The lack of response and willingness to engage from DEFF and Isimangaliso will ultimately endanger the livelihoods of small-scale fishers who depend on the Isimangaliso water bodies.