A meeting called by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to discuss aspects of the small-scale fisheries policy was deeply flawed, according to representatives of Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa who attended.
The meeting was held on 27 February at Century City and billed as the inaugural meeting of the Small-Scale Fisheries Forum. DAFF stated in an invitation letter that the main objective of the forum was to disseminate information pertaining to the implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy. The Forum would also be used to provide clarification and feedback on the progress of implementation.
Masifundise and Coastal Links SA this week issued a statement to outline the basis of their concern. The media release reads as follows;
Representatives of Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa attended a meeting convened by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries last week.
The meeting held on the 27 of February at Ratanga Junction, Cape Town discussed aspects of the Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF) Policy implementation plan.
In an email invitation DAFF described the gathering as the inaugural meeting of the Small-Scale Fisheries Forum where information would be disseminated and aspects of the SSF implementation plan discussed.
There were a number of irregularities in this process;
- The representation was haphazard. DAFF had formally requested that only one person per community or organisation attends. While we abided by this, others bussed in big delegations. A number of communities like Paternoster, Saldanha, Laaiplek were not represented at all.
- The document, in English, containing regulations pertaining to the small-scale fishery sector was only distributed at the meeting. It was not translated into isiXhosa, Zulu and Afrikaans. This severely limited the capacity of fishers to engage or understand.
- The regulations document refers to the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998. This is the wrong reference as this act was amended and section 19 was substantially changed in the amended act adopted in 2014 to allow for the implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy.
- An “Expression of Interest” form which was unveiled at the meeting had already been distributed beforehand to a person from Pearly Beach on the South Coast. This form is now being used to determine who qualifies as fishers and fishing communities in selected areas only. The distribution of the form to selected individuals and communities is biased, irregular and unfair and it causes significant confusion and tension in fishing communities.
“Clearly, there was little thought and project planning that went into this meeting, as it was appallingly executed” said Masifundise’s Mandla Gxamlana who attended this meeting.
“The process was seriously flawed and if this continues, then the integrity of the small-scale fisheries policy implementation process will be seriously undermined,” he continued.
“We are committed to working with DAFF to make a success of this process. For this to happen, they have to display a seriousness of intent which was sorely lacking last week,” he said.
“The policy process has dragged on for about a decade and so we cannot afford any further delays. We therefore need the process to be properly managed,” he said.
We call on DAFF to convene properly constituted representative and consultative forums in the provinces of Kwazulu Natal, Eastern and Northern Cape.
The meetings must be fully representative and the consultation process must be a genuine one serving the interests of small-scale fishers. Furthermore, information must be disseminated in advance and be available in the mother languages of the fishers.
Issued by Masifundise Development Trust and Coastal Links South Africa, Station Road, Mowbray
Contact Masifundise Development Trust Communication Unit Mansoor Jaffer or Nosipho Singiswa