270 Small-Scale Fisher communities have submitted their Forms for Expression of Interests to the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries.

The deadline for the submissions is 7 April 2016.

Masifundise would like to inform all communities who have not yet submitted their forms to do so as soon as they can.

“Submission for the Expression of Interest forms will soon be closing and communities that have not registered have until 7 April to submit their expression of interest to the Department,” said Masifundise Director Naseegh Jaffer.

“It is important that we inform all our communities so that those who have not yet submitted forms can do so, let us spread this message far and wide”, Jaffer continued.

The communities who have submitted forms will be contacted by the department to set up dates when they will be verified.

Most of the communities already registered are from the Eastern and Western Cape. The Department will visit these communities for the next process, which is the identification, verification and registration process.

“We have been contacting all the individuals who submitted expression of interests on behalf of over 270 communities. They have been informed that the department has received their forms and that they will be contacted once times and venues have been confirmed,” wrote Abongile Gongqwa in an e-mail correspondence with Masifundise.

“We will do our best to inform communities about the verification process schedule”, commented Mandla Gqamlana of Masifundise.

Community members who have submitted the forms say that they are looking forward to the process. They also said there is a need for Masifundise to come into their communities to assist fishers to know the process better.

“We have received correspondence from DAFF, they informed us that they will put information about the process in different allocations, but no exact date was given to us,” Luyanda Dumke, chairperson of the Cwebe branch in the Eastern Cape commented.

He also said he was not quite sure if the community knew exactly what the process entailed. “To my knowledge there is a lot of information that needs to be disseminated to our communities, as it will be our first time (in the Eastern Cape) to go through such a process,” he continued.

Victor Shezi from Kwazulu Natal said that this has been a long awaited act they are still waiting to see if the implementation will proceed swiftly.

“Many communities in KZN have submitted the forms, we are eager to be verified and for fishers to receive rights accordingly,” said Shezi. “Finally there will be food and income security for the fishers”.

The submission of Expression of Interest forms is the third of five stages of the implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy.

This stage includes, the verification and identification of fishers, socio economic baseline study for the entire sector, alternative livelihood study per area, the registration of cooperative and the development of management plan for each cooperative.

The department is looking to start the verification for all provinces by the 4th of April and the schedule for community visits will be made public as soon as the department has confirmation of dates and venues for each province.

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