Small-scale fishers in Kwazulu Natal and the Eastern Cape want their voices heard and demand decisive action from government.

The fishers have experienced huge difficulties in recent years as they wait for the small-scale fisheries policy to be implemented.

The following obstacles stand in the way of traditional fishers making sustainable livelihoods;

  • They operate with subsistence fishing permits which prevent them selling their catch and generating an income.
  • Permits are issued late and to undeserving beneficiaries and limited rights are authorised.
  • The management of Marine Protected Areas which at times deny traditional fishers their customary rights.
  • The arrests and unfair treatment of fishers by DAFF and MPA officials.

Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa have been calling for the fishers to be granted an exemption so that they can sell their catch.

A CLSA leader in KZN Mr Bethwel Sithole has said; “Subsistence permit fish allocation is at a minimum, we need to get authority to catch more fish and to sell what we catch.”

Christiaan Adams, the national chairperson of CLSA said he found it strange that Western and Northern Cape fishers are allowed to sell their catch while it is forbidden for fishers in the other two coastal provinces. “When fishers try to earn a living, they are turned into criminals,” he said.

Small-Scale fishers are forced to find alternative income opportunities. “We end up selling our catches illegally as we struggle to make ends meet,” lamented, Mr Ntsindiso Nongcavu fisher in Port St Johns. “Other fishers end up looking for employment but jobs are scarce,” he continued.

These matters will all be resolved through the comprehensive and swift implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy. The Dwesa-Cwebe MPA court case is in progress.

Government has announced that the SSF policy will be implemented this year. A training workshop in KZN and a bilateral meeting between DAFF and Masifundise last week, are positive steps forward,  MDT Director Naseegh Jaffer believes.

He said he hoped there would be no further obstacles in a process that began more than a decade ago when the Equality Court ordered the formulation of the SSF policy.

 Small-Scale Fisheries Policy

In 2005 when the government adopted long-term fishing policies that made no provision for small-scale fishers. Masifundise, Coastal Links, the Artisanal Fishers Association of South Africa and the Legal Resources Centre took the matter to the Equality High Court.

The court ordered the government to develop a policy that includes small-scale fishers and that an interim relief package is extended while this was being done. Masifundise and Coastal Links engaged in wide-ranging advocacy initiatives during this period and afterwards. In 2012, the policy was finally adopted by national Cabinet. The majority of its contents had been proposed by Masifundise, Coastal Links and partners. For the policy to be implemented, the Marine Living Resources Act had to be amended. This process was concluded in May 2014.

Benefits of the new policy include the following:

The formal, legal recognition of artisanal fishing communities, for the first time.

A move to collective fishing rights, away from the individual quota system that excluded the majority.

The demarcation of exclusive fishing zones for small scale fishers, where they will be able to harvest or catch anything throughout the year. The potential for ongoing sustainable income will be considerably enhanced. These zones will be out of bounds for big commercial fishing companies.

Clear benefits for women, in fishing communities, from both fishing and value chain involvement.

Women will be able to actively take part in fishing activities and participate in the management and regulatory systems at local and national level.

There will be improved marine resource co-management.

The implementation process could only happen once the Marine Living Resources Act was amended. This process was complete in May 2014.

Issued by Masifundise Development Trust Communication Unit for Masifundise Development Trust and Coastal Links South Africa.

If you would like more information on these issues and would like to conduct interviews, invite the two organisations for discussions, do contact the MDT Communication Unit:

Contact Person: Mansoor Jaffer or Nosipho Singiswa

Tel: 021 6854549


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