The Small-Scale Fisheries policy is there to right the wrongs of the past, to bring balance and justice to the small-scale fishing sector.
Through the policy, small-scale and artisanal fishers will rightfully benefit from marine resources and are given legal recognition as industry players of the fishing industry.
Adopting an integrated and holistic based approach on human rights principles, is one of the policy objective and this week, we take a look at this objective.
Human rights are universal and inalienable; indivisible; interdependent and interrelated. They apply to all equally. They are upheld by the rule of law and strengthened through legitimate claims for duty-bearers to be accountable to international standards (United Nations Population Fund, 2005).
Human Rights Principles are components of the United Nations International human rights instruments and standards.
These instruments and standards provide a broad framework for the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms of all human beings (A RIGHTS-BASED APPROACH TO REALISING GENDER EQUALITY, 2010).
Not recognising people’s way of livelihoods, and introducing policies that excludes, discriminates and drives people further into poverty was and is a violation of human rights.
The MLRA of 1998 and long term fishing policy adopted in 2005 marginalised small-scale and artisanal fishers, including those who are involved in post harvesting activities.
With the Human rights principles being Universal, Indivisibility, Participatory, Transparency, Non-Discriminatory and Accountability; the MLRA and the long term fishing rights introduced by the South African government were not:
Universal: Fishing rights were not afforded to the small-scale fishing sector.
Indivisible: The long term fishing rights were devoid of the cultural or customary rights. SS fishers could not access marine resources and their uses of these resources were limited.
Participatory: The exclusion of the small-scale fisheries sector showed that government excluded this group in policy-making. Therefore the principle of Participation was not included, for if small-scale fishers were included then their rights would have been recognised and granted to them.
Non-Discriminating: Small-Scale fishers were not legally recognised by the South African government, thus their rights were not guaranteed. The exclusion of this sector in the MLRA and in the Long term Fishing allocation process automatically threatened the livelihoods and security of those within small-scale fishing sector.
People have a right to participate in how decisions are made regarding protection of their rights. (National, Economic and Social Rights Initiative; 2012)
The public participation process on the Regulations for Small-Scale fishing is one way that government is adhering to these principles. All information and decision-making processes relating the policy implementation and roll out must made public.
As we are in the implementation and roll out stages of the policy, the government has a key facilitating role to play in achieving all policy objectives.
Government has to make sure that policy processes are inclusive, fair and transparent. There must be effective measures put in place so that the government can be held accountable whenever the implementation process is not adhering to the five principles of human rights.