On 26 September, Masifundise hosted a roundtable discussion at the Local Municipal Council Chambers in Jozini to discuss small-scale fishing at the Jozini dam. The meeting gave inland small-scale fishers an opportunity to address their challenges around access to fishing at the dam.
Local and provincial government officials, traditional leaders from three villages, local fishers, women and youth were in attendance.
During the meeting, the fishers raised a concern around the criminalisation of fishers who are fishing for their livelihood. Local fishers’ boats are heavily regulated by law enforcement and often times, they are prohibited from fishing.
Another challenge, is that local fishers have limited access to the dam due to the development of tourism in Jozini. Fishers are concerned that their access to fishing at the dam is becoming less, while the development of lodges and spas are growing. Recreational fishers that visit these places are given preferential access to fish rather than the local fisherfolk who have lived and fished off the dam for generations.
Clarity around gill net fishing was also brought up at the roundtable. Jozini fishers use a gill net that is a size 5 net. Local authorities have harassed them and they were instructed not to use the net for fishing.
Mr Bheki Dlamini, from the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, acknowledged the local fishers’ challenges and suggested meeting with all relevant departments for a discussion on interim measures for inland fishers while the policy is still being implemented.
Going forward, Masifundise will continue to support fishers so they are able to ensure that their livelihood activities are protected and promoted.