Small-scale fishers from Nibela in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) have tabled a letter to Isimangaliso Wetland Park authorities and the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) following failed attempts of meaningful public participation for the Integrated Management Plan (IMP) 2022-31.

In the letter small-scale fishers made a clarion call for the extension of the public participation and comment period for the IMP as well as an urgent engagement with Isimangaliso and DEFF on the rights of small-scale fishers in the IMP.

On 29 September Isimangaliso Wetland Authority invited the public to provide input and comments on the draft Integrated Management Plan, relevant to the years 2022 – 2031.

Isimangaliso was unable to reach many rural communities through their consultative processes including Nibela. Printed copies of the IMP, which were mainly exclusive of local languages, were made available in only six public venues. This 214-page document failed to recognise the customary rights of small-scale fishers. The IMP failed to mention small-scale fishers’ rights and how they would be included in the co-management of small-scale fishing on the lake. The proposed IMP has made no provisions for activities that make up the livelihoods of small-scale fishers.

Masifundise stands in support of the KZN Coastal Links branch in the advocacy for their rights. We understand that the closure of the comment and public participation period by 31 October will further exclude fishers and threaten fisher livelihoods.