Weekly Information Update

This information sheet is published every Wednesday and distributed via our database, our website and social media. It provides information on the work of Masifundise Development Trust (Masifundise) and Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA).

25 June 2014

Kwazulu Natal fishers still persecuted

Arrests, harassment and restrictions are among the obstacles faced by small-scale fishers in parts of Kwazulu Natal (KZN).

The rules and practices governing small-scale fisheries are making it very difficult for fishers to make sustainable livelihoods. The immediate implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy will alleviate much of their plight. 

Fishers in KZN have difficulty in acquiring fishing permits, but even when they do, the permits prevent them from selling parts of their catch. Their counterparts in the Western Cape and Northern Cape do not have such restrictions.

Fishers believe that Marine Protected Areas are important for the preservation of marine resources but their management often curtails the rights of small-scale fishers to decent livelihoods.

In March this year, about 100 fishers, mainly from Nibela and Nkundise on the KZN South Coast, marched to the office of KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife to hand over a memorandum of grievances.

The fishers outlined at least 30 grievances in the memorandum in which they allege the following;

  • The beating and shooting of fishers by the KZN Ezemvelo wildlife
  • The destruction of boats and nets
  • Lack of consultation by the organisation and its researchers regarding  marine resources
  • Permits, land grabbing and funding issues

The march was a stance taken by the fishers after their boats and nets were confiscated by the KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife Trust early in February.

Ezemvelo provided a detailed response, which stated, among other things:

“Any equipment used in an illegal activity is seized by Ezemvelo and South African Police Services as a legal requirement. In this instance, the boats are also illegal in terms of safety requirements and are a serious hazard due to the presence of crocodiles and hippos in Lake St Lucia”.

“The use of gillnets is not legal in the iSimangaliso World Heritage Site, or any KZN estuaries and freshwater lakes and rivers and the use of gillnets is prohibited countrywide in term of the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA)”.

The fishers maintain that current fisheries management discriminates against them and have asked Masifundise and Coastal Links to step in so that the small-scale fisheries (SSF) policy can be urgently implemented.

The SSF policy will open up new possibilities for small-scale fishers in KZN and the rest of the country.

Benefits of the new policy include the following:

  • The formal, legal recognition of small-scale fishing communities, for the first time.
  • A move to collective fishing rights, away from the individual quota system that excluded the majority.
  • The demarcation of exclusive fishing zones for small scale fishers, where they will be able to harvest or catch anything throughout the year. The potential for ongoing sustainable income will be considerably enhanced. These zones will be out of bounds for big commercial fishing companies.
  • Clear benefits for women, in fishing communities, from both fishing and value chain involvement.
  • Women will be able to actively take part in fishing activities and participate in the management and regulatory systems at local and national level.
  • Improved marine resource co-management.

Coastal Links SA constitution in the making

Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA) is preparing to adopt the organisation’s constitution. Currently, Masifundise staff and CLSA leadership are organising regional meetings to discuss the contents of the organisations’ constitution which will be adopted later this year at the MDT and CLSA Annual General Meeting.

The regional meetings are an important step for CLSA so to fully engage members at a grassroots level about the management and operations of CLSA. After regional meetings, the provincial executive committee will meet and discuss issues raised on a regional level before the constitution is taken to a national level.

The constitution will not be the only issue on the agenda of CLSA meeting – they are also due to discuss, the implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy, the policy handbook, Annual general meeting and the distribution of the latest MDT’s quarterly publication, Fishers Net.

Coastal Links has more than 4 000 members organised into 90 branches in four coastal provinces.

Fisher representatives from 40 countries to meet in Cape Town

Preparations for the 6th General Assembly of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), which will be held in Cape Town, are progressing well.

Some 150 delegates from 40 countries will gather from 1 to 5 September 2014 to focus on a range of critical issues related to small-scale fisheries.

The conference will focus on Ocean Grabbing, which is about the privatisation of the oceans by corporate interests and the International Guidelines on small-scale fishing, which was adopted in Rome earlier this month.

The plans for WFFP, 6th General Assembly are progressing, invitations have gone out to all member countries, and the responses have been positive. Members of WFFP are expected to arrive in Cape Town on Sunday 31st August in time for the start of the conference on 1st September. The conference will be held at the Fountains Hotel, situated in the heart of the city of Cape Town.

The 6 day programme will kick off with a grand opening ceremony, a keynote address, some cultural items and reports from relevant WFFP officials.

This will be followed by three days of discussions around issues pertaining to ‘Ocean Grabbing’ and how we apply tenure guidelines in this struggle to protect the sea and its resources, as well at a detailed discussion on the latest FAO endorsed International Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries.

Said organiser Michelle Joshua:

“The programme is designed to allow for much participation and we look forward to learning from our collective experiences and securing solutions that will benefit us all”.

“During the programme, we will also take time to remember those who have given their lives to this struggle. A special tribute will be made in honour of Thomas Kocherry- founder member of the WFFP who passed on earlier this year. We will honour him for his dedication and commitment to the struggle and his hard work in the forum. “

“Likewise we will honour and remember the work of Chandrika Sharma. We will reflect on her dedication, contributions and passion for this sector, and we will especially remember her family and colleagues during this time of great uncertainty,” said Joshua. Sharma was aboard the Malaysian flight that went missing on March 8 this year. She has been active in small-scale fisheries struggles for many years.

The programme will also make provision for a full day fieldtrip to a coastal town as well as a half day trip around the city. All formal decisions will be tied down at the official session of the General Assembly as stipulated in Article 11 of their constitution. Hereafter, members will be asked to recommit themselves to the work of WFFP and the proceedings will be concluded by a festive closing ceremony.

West Coast Rock Lobster Season to close with immediate effect

The Rock Lobster season will be closed with immediate effect, Masifundise and CLSA representatives were told last week, at a meeting with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

Masifundise, CLSA and other stakeholders participate in a group, which looks at the status of the stock, recommends the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the year and drafts management plans for lobster.

Masifundise’s Hahn Goliath led the delegation which included CLSA members from the Western and Northern Cape (NC).

He said that the early closure of the WCRL season is a problem especially for the fishers in the Northern Cape, as fishers from this area mostly rely on harvesting the lobster.

“The WCRL is the main source of income for fishers in Port Nolloth. The closure has a negative effect as they have only harvested only 60% of their allocation for this season”, said Goliath.

The current season began on 15 November 2013  and was scheduled to end on the 30th of June 2014.

The meeting discussed the status of the WCRL in the NC and Western Cape (WC), with particular focus on Zones B and C (in Elandsbaai, St Helena Baai, Doringbaai, Ebenhaeser) and Area Eight, which is in Cape Town.

In the report, DAFF stated that due to female lobster being in berry, the 2014 season for catching the WCRL should be closed with immediate effect and no roll over and transfer of allocations will take place in the next season.

The department is also considering changing season dates; they plan to review their Operation Management Plan, which deals with opening and closure of seasons and fishing rights allocations etc, as they have noticed that through the years, there have been changes in the reproduction season of the WCRL.

“This year, the early closure of the WCRL season has resulted in less income for the fishers. In addition, DAFF issued the initial permits late. In the light of this, we have asked the department to reconsider rolling over the WCRL allocations for the next season particularly for the NC,” continued Goliath.

The meeting was held at DAFF offices, in Cape Town and was attended by members of the civil society, researchers, scientists and fishers involved in the small-scale fisheries sector. The department is yet to issue a document with the WCRL Status Report.

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