The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) is going ahead with the registration and training of small-scale fishing cooperatives in Langebaan on 14 September 2020. The Department has admitted that the training they have provided in other communities has been inadequate, yet they have continued with their plans of cooperative training in the Western Cape, fully aware of its faults and shortfalls.
The training of cooperatives in various other fishing communities thus far has been rushed and inefficient forcing fishing communities to commit to cooperative registration processes without full and meaningful engagement. The training sessions usually last two days and are often exclusive, providing little assistance to small-scale fishers in the management of their cooperatives.
In 2019 Minister Barbara Creecy began conducting an internal audit of the small-scale fisheries sector in Western Cape. The audit was to investigate the discrepancies of verified and excluded fishers as well as examine the application process in its entirety. In the Western 10 000 people applied in terms of the small-scale fishing policy, yet only 2 500 fishers qualified highlighting stark inconsistencies in the verification processes.
The outcomes of that audit process have not been finalised or concluded yet. However, DEFF is forging ahead with cooperative training from the existing fishing list that excludes a large number of bona fide fishers.
DEFF has continued to treat the management of the small-scale fisheries as a tick box exercise providing little meaningful transformation to the sector. The Department has failed to rectify its mistakes, but instead has opted to ignore cries and challenges of small-scale fishers.