This year’s fisheries allocations will come under the spotlight at a national workshop of small-scale fishers next week.
The workshop is hosted by Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa and will include delegates from around the country.
Coastal Links represents some 4 000 fishers in more than 100 coastal communities. This year the first group of inland fishers, from Vanderkloof Dam in the Northern Cape, joined CLSA.
Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa have described the fisheries allocations this year as unjust, in breach of the law and hugely detrimental to small-scale fishers.
Almost all of the line fish and net fish allocations have gone to the commercial sector and it appears this pattern will be repeated when West Coast Rock Lobster rights are allocated.
It has come to the attention of the sector that WCRL rights will be allocated to the commercial and recreational sector, and for Interim Relief.
The Interim Relief system is discredited and has caused great disunity in communities. Fisher organisations have called for it to end and be replaced with the Small-scale fisheries policy. Its extension is illegal, according to fisher leaders. In fact, the entire allocation process is in contravention of the Amended Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA) and the Small-scale Fisheries Policy.
The workshop will consider what action is to be taken to correct this injustice which is an abuse of the human rights of small-scale fishers and breaks fisheries laws.
In the 2015/16 Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP), the overwhelming majority of the 455 rights of line-fish that make up the Total Allowable Effort (TAE) has been allocated to the commercial sector, leaving less than 28 rights for the small-scale fishing sector nationally.
The situation with net-fishing allocations is even worse. The entire net-fish except for 52 rights (45 gill nets and 7 trek-nets) was allocated to the commercial sector.
For first time, the Amended Marine Living Resources Act of 2014 gives legal recognition to the small-scale fisheries sector.
It provides the framework for the implementation of small-scale fisheries (SSF) policy making the near-shore, where net-fishing takes place, a preferential zone for small-scale fishers.
Yet, all the resources have been allocated to the commercial sector, in violation of the policy.
In a letter to The Cape Times in August, the Director of Masifundise Development Trust (MDT), Naseegh Jaffer, said that in the 2013 FRAP, there was some progress in the way allocations were done.
“However, many previous beneficiaries went to court to appeal and there was an order for a settlement process. The Minister announced the outcome in May this year, and it completely marginalises the small-scale sector,” he said.
“Small-scale fishers, the ones most in need are excluded in the main. We have always been of the view that benefits should accrue to fishers who are most in need and not already empowered individuals.
He said the allocations “currently being made will completely undermine the strides made with the adoption of the policy and the progress underway with the implementation process.”
The 2005 line fish allocation excluded the approximately 30 000 small-scale fishers and was found by a court of law (the Equality Court -2007), to be unjust and discriminatory.
It took almost ten years for the SSF policy to be formulated and adopted. It provides a good framework for progress. But without adequate allocations, the policy has little meaning.