On the 5 September, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) announced that the Western Cape High Court has reviewed and set aside the 2016-2019 process of verification of Small-scale Fishers in the Western Cape province.

Now, the process to verify and confirm small-scale fishers, will reopen for the current allocations only. The process will commence in September. This means only those who applied for fishing rights under the call of the 2016-2019 period will be able to apply again. The existing rights for small-scale fishers will remain in place until the new verification process is complete.

Masifundise and Coastal Links welcomes the new process of verifying bona-fide small-scale fishers in the Western Cape and we encourage small-scale fishers to participate in the process to avoid being excluded from the sector in the long term.

We recognise that there are some fishers that are still excluded in the new process, especially youth and women. We are also concerned with other outstanding issues that are hindering the full and effective realisation of the rights of small-scale fishers along the entire national coastline. We must fight this exclusion urgently.

Masifundise and Coastal Links believes that small-scale fishers should be encouraged and supported in claiming their rights through the SSF Policy roll out. Simultaneously, we will continue to fight to align the process to the SSF Policy principles, and to address all other challenges threatening the livelihoods of fishing communities.

Some of the challenges include, the lack of a viable basket of species being allocated to fishers, lack of social security and support for infrastructure and capacity development and the ongoing promotion of the ‘blue economy’. This only supports ocean grabbing development, such mining, oil and gas exploration, profit-driven marine conservation developments and other Ocean Economy and aquatic activities.

Masifundise and Coastal Links will continue to support the fight of fishing communities for social and economic justice and for their meaningful inclusion in decision-making and policy processes impacting on their rights and livelihoods.