The mismatched species allocation by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) has created major challenges for small-scale fishers in KwaZulu-Natal.

The allocations do not speak to the customary practices of KZN fishers nor do they recognise or coincide with traditionally harvested species.

Israel, a small-scale fisher from Mthwalume, laments that the species offered by DEFF are deep sea species that require boats and other special fishing equipment that fishers do not have. “Even if fishers were supported with boats by the government, we would need to be trained on how to use them and be capacitated with skipper licenses and diving training,” he said. Due to these fishers are unable to access their full allocation thus crippling their income and threatening their livelihoods.

The current allocations are incompatible with the customary conditions of rural fishers. In response to these challenges DEFF has encouraged small-scale fishers enter into an agreement with vessel owners in order to access their full catch. This action by the Department is reckless and puts the lives and safety of fishers at risk. Fishers cannot be encouraged to use boats without the appropriate training and expertise.

Masifundise will continue to engage with DEFF in resolving the challenges faced by small-scale fishers.