Inland small-scale fishers from the communities of Norvalspont, Gariep, Venterstad and Oviston gathered for a peaceful protest held outside the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) offices on Friday, 25 March.
The marginalised and impoverished fishers from these communities face a daily struggle of putting food on their tables, and are met with resistance by ECPTA officials.
Fishers from these communities are repeatedly denied access to their traditional fishing grounds within the nature reserve in Oviston. They are also asked to pay an entrance fee of R25 in order to enter the premises. This amount is unrealistic for small-scale fishers when they do not catch enough fish to sell and make the money back.
“I don’t work, I am struggling. I don’t have money to take my children to school. But today, I am fighting for my right to access fishing grounds so that I can go catch fish, and have some money to send my children to school and to put food on the table.” Nomfundo Saul, fisherwoman from Norvalspont.
A representative from each community and the Masifundise team, went onto the ECPTA grounds and Adam Visagie, community representative from Oviston, read out their memorandum of demands.
After the demands were read out Siya Disteleka, Head Field Ranger at ECPTA, confirmed receipt of the memorandum and assured that it would be presented to the reserve manager.
On 7 April ECPTA met with the inland fishing communities.
They acknowledged the fishers’ grievances and agreed to set up community structures that allow them to work together with the communities on issues regarding access to the reserve, on both a local and provincial level.