On 2 June 2021 the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) hosted a stakeholder engagement on the development of the Ocean Economy Master Plan without the inclusion of small-scale fishers and key civil society stakeholders.
DFFE did not invite most small-scale fisher while others were unable to attend due to poor communication from the department or the lack of resources to connect online.
“We were not aware that this Master Plan was being rolled out by government. This Plan will be happening on our shores so we have a right to be consulted and to be part of all decision-making processes that will affect our coastal communities,” said Nstindiso Nongcavu, Coastal Links Chairperson in the Eastern Cape.
The Ocean Economy Master Plan forms part of Operation Phakisa. Operation Phakisa was developed by the South African Government in 2014 with the aims of developing the oceans economy and boosting economic growth. This programme looks at capitalising on the rich potential of ocean industries through marine transport and manufacturing, oil and gas, aquaculture, and the expansion of Marine Protected Areas.
The push towards extractive activities through the Ocean Economy Master Plan threatens the livelihoods of small-scale fishers as well as disrupts marine ecosystems and ocean resources.
Small-scale fishers are the primary custodians of oceans. Local communities have been harvesting resources from coasts and oceans for decades, and fishing is part of their culture, identity, and heritage. It is therefore important that the protection and use of the world’s oceans and resources includes coastal communities in order to ensure social and environmental justice