Masifundise Development Trust welcomes Nico Waldeck, experienced community development practitioner in the small-scale sector, as the newest board member.

Waldeck worked at Masifundise for over a decade as a Community Development Worker for coastal communities in the Western Cape and Northern Cape.

Nico was born into the fishing community of Lamberts Bay. From a young age he was made aware of the fishing practice and explained it was part of the livelihood in his home,

“That’s where my passion comes from, I was born in the fishing community you know. My whole life was around fishing. After I finished matric, I went straight to sea. I was so used to fish around me so naturally, I became a fisher and fish as a main source of food, it was huge for us… it’s like second nature to us,” he said.

Waldeck’s history of activism began during the student movement, and he was the Deputy chairperson of the Lamberts Bay Youth congress.

He has always been involved in human rights movements. Over the years, he shifted to fighting for coastal communities and the rights of small-scale fishers who depend on the sea’s natural resources for their livelihoods.

In 2004, he was one of the many leaders who established the Coastal Links movement.

“With my background in politics, I thought it would also come naturally that we would get our rights. But I was surprised that we have to struggle all over again for the rights of fishers”.

Nico reflects on his time with Coastal Links. Winning the class action suit against the Minister of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) and the development of the Small-scale Fisheries Policy was a major highlight however, the lack of implementation of that very same policy is a major setback to the sector.

Currently, Waldeck works at hybrid social enterprise Abalobi, as a community engagement leader and believes it is a vehicle that fishers can use to advance their development.

“I am because of small-scale fisheries, and it is my responsibility to see that there will still be small-scale fishing in my life even when I’m gone.”