On 26 May, Coastal Links leaders and Masifundise attended a Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) workshop together with other fisher organisations. It was announced that the department will implement co-management and establish co-management structures for the 2022/2023 financial year.
Co-management is stipulated as one of the key objectives in the Small-scale Fisheries Policy (2012). The objective speaks to management of resources that will be shared between the local community and the government. It rejects a top-down approach of resource management.
Co-management will to take place on 3 levels, local, provincial and national. It was noted that while there will be a general co-management framework, structures could differ from province to province.
Fishers identified a number of challenges around the process including a lack of resources, conflicts within communities and lack of communication infrastructures.
Andre Cloete, Chairperson of Coastal Links Western Cape, expressed that the implementation of co-management “is long overdue” and he hopes that government will deliver on their promises made.
DFFE noted that the co-management plan is still in development as this was the first engagement, other provinces have not been engaged yet despite being further ahead in the process of implementation.
Co-management for small-scale fishing (SSF) communities should reflect the values and principles of the South African SSF movement. Each community has its own dynamics and the implementation of co-management must reflect each community’s reality.
According to the principles of the SSF policy, co-management is not a new process, it should be based on the customary local management of communities who’ve governed fisheries sustainably through generations.
The human right for communities to participate in decision-making, social integrity and development and Food Sovereignty is what co-management should echo.
Co-management in the Western Cape will only begin once the policy is implemented.