On 28 September, Masifundise held an online launch for its third research report and short documentary on inland fisheries. Both form part of a three-year series of research reports and film documentaries produced by Masifundise on Inland Fisheries in South Africa. The focal areas centre on three specific inland regions, Jozini, Gariep, and Vanderkloof.

The latest report and documentary emphasise the importance of recognizing inland small-scale fishing as meaningful work that significantly supports local livelihoods, particularly in areas facing high poverty and unemployment rates.

The report, Casting Nets of Change, examines the role of wild capture fisheries in fulfilling the daily livelihood needs of rural communities residing along inland rivers and catchment areas. It conceptualizes the importance of advancing inland small-scale fishing as work and depicts what work would look like in everyday practice. The report also highlights the challenges experienced by small-scale fishers in carrying out their livelihood activities and provides recommendations for the way forward.

“What this recognition would bring is opportunities to further develop fishing in inland water bodies, and more importantly it will be able to contribute to food security, nutrition and livelihoods in the context of these rural communities.” said Carmen Mannarino from Masifundise.

The short documentary, Unhooking Potential: Understanding Inland Fishing as work , draws upon the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), to depict the importance of valuing small-scale inland fishing as legitimate work and also brings attention to the key challenges faced by local fishers in the Gariep Dam region.

During the launch, Naseegh Jaffer from Masifundise explained why the recognition of inland fishing as work is significant for rural communities,

“By legally recognising inland fishing as work, you create the potential for those traditional practices that exist to also be the management process of how inland fishing happens [co-management]. Government should empower communities by allowing them to self-govern.”

“Recognition of inland fishing also deepens the appreciation of the interaction between communities and nature as two entities interdependent on each other. It means we don’t have to go to a supermarket and nature can provide as long as they are given the space to do so.” said Jaffer.

At the launch, Bheki Ndlazi from Jozini shared the continued challenges they will face if change is not brought to the sector

“Historically, we always fished at the dam because we live in a rural area where access to work and food is limited and therefore, we use the dam as a source of food and income. However, due to the development of tourism at Jozini dam, our access to the dam for livelihood activities has been restricted. This has caused a lot of suffering to the families in my community. We call on the department to assist us in accessing the dam so we are able to do our work”

Download the report here

Watch the documentary here


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