SMALL Scale fishers in the Western Cape have until February 15 to make an input into the draft Provincial Coastal Management Programme, before it gets adopted.

The Integrated Coastal Management Act (IMCA) makes it incumbent upon local, provincial and national governments to develop their own coastal management plans, with the input from local communities.

The draft programme can be found at, and people can comment and make proposals via email, post or simply drop it off at the provincial government offices in Wale Street, Cape Town.

Melissa Naiker, Environmental Officer in the Western Cape – Environmental Affairs and Development (EADP), says that this is not about the passing of a law, but rather about a programme of work to facilitate the access of communities to coastal resources.

It is a five year programme to implement the national IMCA at a provincial and local level.

The Western Cape Coastal Management Programme has nine priority areas, which include:

  • Social, economic development and planning;
  • Cooperative governance and local government support;
  • Facilitation of coastal access;
  • Climate change, dynamic coastal processes and building resilient communities;
  • Land and marine-based sources of pollution and waste;
  • Natural and cultural resource management;
  • Estuary management; Capacity building, advocacy and education Compliance, monitoring and enforcement.
  • Capacity building, advocacy and education
  • Compliance, monitoring and enforcement

Christian Adams, national chairperson of Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA), believes that things are not as simple as the Western Cape Province would like us to believe.

“For starters, they expect a two-hour public meeting, which in any case also started late, to be sufficient as consultation on the programme,’’ says Adams.

On top of that, with such little consultation in the conceptualisation of the programme, Adams wants to know how they will still implement co-operative governance and co-management of resources.

The importance of small-scale fishers to impact this document cannot be stressed enough, since Adams attended one of these public participation meetings, and at the meeting the government proposed that some of the big landlords who own land adjacent to the coast, become the custodians of the coast.

“This will become a huge problem, since many of these land-owners have no sympathy for small-scale fishers.”

Another problem Adams has with the programme is that it wants to declare more MPAs in the Western Cape, which would make earning sustainable livelihoods for small-scale fishers even more difficult.

Fishers from Darling and Mamre have been having difficulties with the Swartland Municipality for many years which refused them access to launch from Ganzekraal on the West Coast.

“Instead, we have to launch our boats to sea more than 130 km from where we live, and I would like to see this coastal management programme address this problem of the small scale fishers.”

Adams also says that the management programme draws a lot from Operation Phakamisa, which in some instances is in conflict with the small-scale fishing policy.

“The programme is interested in mining resources on the coast and talks about aquaculture, and we know that aquaculture is not a type of fishing for small-scale fishers, it is not a continuation of our traditions and customs. It also requires large capital inputs in the form of infra-structure and other costs, which are beyond what small-scale fishers can afford.”

In the end, “this is only about ticking the right boxes on the part of the department, and not about real consultation.”

Adams however still believes that small-scale fishers and their organisations still need to get as much comments in about the programme.

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