On 11 February 2021, Masifundise hosted a roundtable on the current implementation of the small-scale fishery policy (SSPF). This roundtable brought together role players and stake holders that had been instrumental in the drafting of the policy.

The promulgation of the SSFP in 2012 showed much promise. The policy was anchored on human rights principles and recognised the rights and needs of small-scale fishers in South Africa. Many imagined that this policy would fundamentally transform the livelihoods of coastal fishing communities.

It has been nearly 10 years since the declaration of this policy, yet very few strides have been taken to improve the lives of small-scale fishing communities. Although fishing rights have been granted and cooperatives established, many challenges continue to plague the small-scale fishery sector.

The roundtable therefore became a platform to share ideas and reflections and more importantly initiate processes and different ways of working as organisations advocating for the rights of small-scale fishers.

“I don’t think that DEFF is capable of meaningfully implementing the policy in the way that it is intended. We have seen the number of mistakes that they have made with the registering of cooperatives and the granting of fishing rights. DEFF needs to pull in NGO’s and other stakeholders to support them in their implementation, Merle Sowman the Head of Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at UCT, advised.

The roundtable was the first of many discussions to strengthen partnerships between fisher organisations to advance the interests of the sector.

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