On 12 April 2022, Masifundise hosted a successful strategy and planning workshop in preparation for a Fisher Peoples Tribunal to take place in 2023.

The organisation has worked with rural small-scale fishing communities for the last 20 years, supporting mobilisation and organisation building towards the recognition and realisation of human rights and food sovereignty.

A decision was made to develop different strategies and tactics to respond to the developments impacting on lives and livelihoods of inland and coastal communities. Furthermore, to build alternative visions and campaigns centred around social, economic and environmental justice for fishers and other working people in coastal and riparian communities.

The Fisher People’s tribunal attempts to effectively document and expose ocean grabbing and the violations of fishing communities’ rights and to check if their rights are being met and the efficacy of the associated policy processes.

Small-scale fishers from both coastal and inland attended as well as, various civil society organisations and tertiary institutions.

“The tribunal might pay the way forward to advance the struggle. The small-scale fishers have had a long struggle but not many successes in bearing the fruits of the struggle.” Winnie Mbokazi, Coastal Links leader, Nkundusi Kwa Zulu Natal.

They shared previous tribunal experiences, commented on the structure and format of the process, identified significant themes in the small-scale fisheries sector and recognized gaps for the way forward.

“Work needs to be done on a grassroots level. Some do not even realise where we come from. Government officials do not recognise us as people. We are seen as the commoners that need to be removed. People do not know of these government meetings where they have plans that involve us” Zingisa Ludude, Coastal Links Leader, Eastern Cape.

The Fisher People’s tribunal will not be a once-off event, but a process centred on fishing communities’ livelihoods, culture and traditions putting forward an alternative vision for an environmentally and socially just use of the ocean’s resources, rooted in food sovereignty and climate justice.