On 26 and 27 July, Masifundise hosted its first Inland Fisheries Exchange in Ebenhaeser, Western Cape. The aim of the exchange was to take 10 inland small-scale fishers from the Vanderkloof and Gariep regions and bring them to the coast so they can get an understanding of how small-scale fishers operate on the coast, but also along the river.

The exchange forms part of Masifundise’s Inland Fisheries Project funded by the Common Wealth Foundation.

Both coastal and inland fishers’, present at this exchange, fish on the river. Their fishing techniques, however, differ. Coastal fishers use a net and a row boat whereas, inland fishers use kraals and handlines to catch fish.

On the first day, the Olifants fishers prepared a programme for the inland fishers that included an introduction to the history of fishing in Ebenhaeser. Etenne Joseph, small-scale fisher in Ebenhaeser, also led a demonstration on how to clean bokkoms.

The day ended with a visit to the Olifants river banks and a tour of the community. The group was shown the agricultural lands, the land claims area and salt pans of Ebenhaeser.

On day 2 of the exchange, inland fishers and Masifundise attended the Olifants fishers’ monthly community meeting in Ebenhaeser.

By participating in this meeting, inland fishers were exposed to how well communities can be organized. During the monthly meeting, the Olifants fishers gather to discuss the state of small-scale fisheries in the region.  

Both inland and coastal fishers were able to share common challenges and solutions around policy and their encounters with government departments. Both groups also discovered the similarities they share in terms of tradition, culture and community.

Adam Visagie, inland fisher from Oviston, shared what he had learnt from the exchange,

“For me, the exchange felt like a home away from home. I’ve learned that, although we as inland fishers differ from coastal fishers, we also have a lot in common. What I take away from this experience is that, the coastal fishers have come a long way in fighting for their rights and it will most likely continue. Now that we have learned about their struggles and are informed about how to take action, I feel the inland fishers will be more prepared in our fight for our rights to be recognized.”