For immediate release

6 March 2024

Masifundise Development Trust is an organization that has been involved in the small-scale fisheries (SFF) sector, working with SSF communities for over 20 years. Over the years, Masifundise has undertaken advocacy efforts and mobilisation initiatives to secure the legal recognition of small-scale fishers in South Africa, resulting in the formulation of the Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF) Policy, presently undergoing implementation.

In light of recent events, Masifundise expresses deep dissatisfaction with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s (DFFE) announcement (attached) regarding the Traditional Line Fish Total Allowable Efforts (TAE), for the following reasons:

  • In the provinces of Western Cape and Northern Cape, the designated TAE for Small-Scale Fisheries represent only 17.3% of the overall TAE allocation. While we acknowledge that the previous allocation of Interim Relief (IR) was included in the allocation to SSF, this is not sufficient. The number of people recognised under IR is smaller than the current total amount of recognised small-scale fishers (SSF). This means that SSF are receiving significantly less than the previous IR allocation. Given the significance of Traditional Line Fish (TLF) as a key species supporting the livelihoods and food security of fishing communities year-round, this shortfall will exacerbate the already vulnerable situation of coastal communities, particularly in rural areas. This allocation equates to an average of 5/6 boats for each of the 64 cooperatives, further highlighting the inadequacy of the allocation.
  • In the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal provinces, the allocation designated for SSF stands at 18.7% (equivalent to 12 boats) and 11.7% (6 boats), respectively. This allocation is to be distributed among the two provinces, which collectively host 109 SSF cooperatives comprising over 7000 recognised SSFs. These SSF were assured 50% of the TLF allocation. Having endured years of marginalisation, criminalisation, and persistent exclusion from the fisheries sector, this decision by the DFFE entrenches this marginilisation and consequently, exacerbates food insecurity and hampers local economic development within fishing communities.
  • The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment continues to prioritise the profits of a few over the food security and local economic development of many. The TAE composition remains unchanged from the 2023 FRAP process, despite DFFE’s knowledge of its contradiction with promises made to the SSF sector over the years. This allocation favors commercial fisheries at the expense of strengthening local small-scale fisheries.

The implementation of the SSF Policy in South Africa lacks assurance for improving conditions for small-scale fishers, not due to the Policy itself but due to DFFE’s consistent prioritisation of commercial and recreational fisheries. Insufficient efforts have been made to ensure SSF communities have a viable basket of species. Traditional Line fish is the cornerstone of a viable basket which can ensure food security and local economic development. But food security is not the only aspect to be considered, TLF species like snoek and yellowtail are an important cultural and traditional foods for the coastal communities, as well as for the culture of small-scale fishers.

It is clear that the concerns around the TLF announcement be addressed immediately. Masifundise launched a petition urging Minister Barbara Creecy and DFFE to fulfil their commitment of allocating 50% of the Traditional line fish TAE to SSF. Around five hundred signatures have already been collected (online and on paper).

Masifundise and Coastal Links call on DFFE to reconsider this decision and fulfill the promise that was made by Minister Creecy which is allocating 50% of the TAE to SSF.

Issued by Masifundise Development Trust and Coastal Links South Africa.
For media inquiries:
Carmen Mannarino (Programme Manager):
071 283 3179 (WhatsApp)

Jordan Volmink (Media Officer):
079 145 5281 (WhatsApp)

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