Fishing Community Profile:
Kosi Bay is a series of four interlinked lakes located in the Umkhanyakude District, KwaZulu-Natal. It also forms part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site in the province.
The four lakes that make up Kosi Bay are Makhawulani, Mpungwini, KuNhlange and Amanzamnyama. They are inter-connected channels which drain via a sandy estuary into the Indian Ocean.
The larger Kosi Bay area comprises five different communities living around the lakes and three of the five communities lie adjacent to the three biggest lakes, Trelfall, Hlomula and Enkovukeni (Sunde, 2013).
In the region, a customary fishing practice called Utshwayelo or fish kraals is used to harvest fish.
The kraals are made of guide fences (umtamana or umteyula) that are constructed at right angles to the flow of the water and to the shoreline.
These fences are crescent or hook-shaped, with the concave side facing upstream. The fish are guided into the heart shaped enclosure – where fish are trapped either in a basket (umono) or in a valve like structure (ijele) where they can be speared (Mountain 1990 in Mann-Lang 2000).
Traditional fishing has been a source of food and livelihood for Kosi Bay communities for generations. It is their customary right to fish on the land they have lived off for centuries.
Small-scale fishers from the Kosi Bay region have faced challenges around the impacts of conservation and Marine Protected Areas which restrict their ability to access their traditional fishing grounds.
Non-functioning cooperatives have also been a major setback for these communities. Although, cooperatives have been established, they are not adequately supported by the department, municipality and other stakeholders and this results in a non-functioning cooperative.
Fishing activities of the Kosi Bay fishing communities are also heavily regulated by Isimangaliso and Ezemvelo rangers. Small-scale fishers continue to experience criminalization and harassment for fishing to put food on the table.
The small-scale fishers from Kosi Bay remain committed to fighting for their rights and to ensure they are included in decision-making processes that will impact their livelihoods.