JUST like Small-Scale Fishers were given the recognition as a sector within the fishing industry when it was decided that a Small-Scale Fishing Policy be developed, fishers in Doring Bay feel that they have now finally also been given the recognition they deserve as a sector at a local level.
Pedro Engelbrecht, Coastal Links member, and chairperson of New Fishers Primary Co-operative and chairperson of u’Khondleka Secondary Co-operative, now represents the fishery sector on the Ward Committee of Ward 2 in the Matzikama Municipality.
Ward 2 in Matzikama includes the communities of Doring Bay, Papendorp, Ebenhaesar, Strandfontein and Naasdrift, and Engelbrecht represents all the fishers from these communities.
“This is the first time we have been given this type of recognition at a local level,” says Engelbrecht.
Engelbrecht says that the local council have an Integrated Development Planning (IDP) process in which they consult with local communities to draw up their strategic plans and budgets.
Engelbrecht now only serves four months on the Ward Committee, and through his input, the fishers are already seeing some improvement.
“Previously as fishers, we did not in any way influence this IDP process, and since we became part of the ward committee, we managed to push through things that will benefit the fishing community and influence the council’s budget to spend money on our priorities.”
He says that in the 2016 financial year, the Matzikama Municipality have budgeted money to:
- Harbour area will be properly fenced and made safe for the community and users
- Harbour fees will be charged as at other harbours, to raise funds for its maintenance
- Upgrading of the fishing sites
- Upgrading and proper maintenance of the toilets
- Installing of proper fish cutting (vlek) tables.
Another serious issue that will be lobbied for in the new year will be to look at how they can get the Matzikama Council to set up a fishing portfolio and department within the council, to address issues and concerns that affect small scale fishers.
Before they got their representation on the local ward committee, fishers in Doring Bay have also become members of the Council of Stakeholders (COS) in Doring Bay.
This is mainly a process that is driven by national government departments and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is the main government player in the COS.
“The COS is now busy building us a new slipway from which we can launch our boats in Doring Bay, something we did not have in the past.”
With his eyes on the local government elections next year, Engelbrecht believes that as small scale fishers they have considerable weight, as they represent a solid constituency within the community, a constituency that all political parties have to give attention to if they wish to seriously contest the elections.