Fishing Community Profile:


Papendorp is a small fishing town situated at the Olifants River mouth on the West Coast in South Africa. The town is a 10-kilometre distance from Ebenhaeser (a neighbouring fishing community).

Papendorp is well known for its proximity to the Olifants Estuary which is rich in biodiversity, and includes wetlands, an abundant birdlife as well as marine life found in the river. Fishing is a primary livelihood activity for the majority of the Papendorp community.

Small-scale fishing is a traditional way of life in Papendorp. In most households, small-scale fishers provide for their families and use fishing as a source if income but also, to put food on the table.

Together with the Ebenheaser and Doringbaai small-scale fishers (SSF), Papendorp SSF are part of an organised structure called the Olifants Fishers who meet on a monthly basis to discuss the state of small-scale fisheries in their region.

Papendorp fisherfolk have actively participated in the development and implementation of the Olifants Estuary Management Framework (OEMF). They recognize the river mouth as a community-managed conservation area to be protected for future generations and for the health of fish stock which they rely on. Local fishers and community members are engaging with various stakeholders to include the protected area in the OEMF.

An ongoing challenge for the small-scale fishers in this community (and on the West Coast) is the influx of prospecting and mining projects which threaten their livelihoods. Particularly, in 2013 prospecting rights were granted to Mineral Sands Resources (MSR), an Australian mining company, by the DMRE for heavy minerals on the northern bank of the Olifants River.

The consequences of this are already being felt by local fishers in Papendorp. They have personally witnessed drilling activities near their community, and they have reported the discharge of mining waste into the ocean. Additionally, they have noticed occasional sand build-up that leads to blockages in the river mouth, raising concerns about its potential effects on the breeding and migratory patterns of fish species.

In spite of these challenges, the Papendorp SSF community remains committed to advocating for their right to food, work, and environmental protection.  

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