Coastal Links SA (CLSA), Masifundise Development Trust (MDT) and Legal Resources Centre (LRC) met with the Acting Deputy Director General (DDG) for Fisheries, Siphokazi Ndudane on Monday May 16 to discuss our concerns on the implementation of the small scale fisheries policy (SSFP) and the general welfare of the small scale fisheries sector.
CLSA were represented by Christian Adams, national chairperson and Norton Dowries, Western Cape chairperson, MDT were represented by Naseegh Jaffer, national director and Mandla Qamlana, programme manager and LRC were represented by Wilmien Wicomb.
Gqamlana explains that the meeting did not have any outcomes, and that the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), had no representatives from their small scale fisheries branch present at the meeting, since it was a meeting with small scale fishers and about the concerns of the small scale fisheries sector.
“Instead the DDG was supported in the meeting by people from DAFF’s legal department, and neither Abongile Ngqongwa nor Craig Smith were present at the meeting,” said Qamlana
Gqamlana says Ndudane was diplomatic and gave her sincere apologies for not staying in touch with the organisations present, that they have a lot of work to do, and they failed to keep abreast.
“She requested that we meet more frequently, and that she understands the significance of the implementation of the SSFP, and as a department they will not renege on the implementation of the policy.”
Ndudane explained that currently the department is busy with the verification process of the SSFP, and that the verification process will give them an indication of what allocation needs to be made to the SSF sector.
Gqamlana says that in the discussions, Christian Adams stressed that it is very hard to see the commitment of the department towards the small scale fisheries sector, and that in processes that relates to the SSFP, CLSA and MDT are not taken on board.
“DAFF should remember that the SSFP came about because the small scale fishers took the government to court, and the court ordered for the policy to be implemented.”
“It is therefore incumbent upon DAFF to consult small scale and their organisations when it comes to the implementation of the policy.”
Adams also raise the point of the present FRAP process, and stated that it is unacceptable that DAFF continues with the allocations in the commercial sector, in light of the SSFP being implemented.
He indicated that the department should make the present FRAP allocations interim allocations until the SSFP gets implemented.
His point was that all allocations should be done at the same time, in order for the SSFP to be allocated a proper share of the TAC and TAE.
“Should the FRAP continue in its present form, the commercial sector will be allocated long term rights, and should the minister take away from the commercial rights holders to give to the small-scale fishers, they will take the minister to court,” said Gqamlana.
Naseegh Jaffer indicated that MPA’s are another elephant in the room when it comes to small scale fishers, and that it severely impacts on small scale fishing communities.
He further stressed that there is not enough dialogue on the issue of MPA’s.
Ndudane indicated that DAFF and DEA are now starting to dialogue with each other on the issue of MPA’s, and she promised that with at the next meeting, with MDT, CLSA and LRC they will make the MPA’s a point on the agenda.
The meeting with the acting DDG came about after MDT, CLSA and LRC sent DAFF a series of letters to discuss the issues of the present FRAP allocations, and the minister’s allocation of line-fish permits to the 2013 FRAP Appellants, and that it will negatively impact on the implementation of the SSFP.