On 17 June 2021 the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) announced a 15% allocation of squid to small-scale fishing cooperatives in the Eastern Cape.

This historical decision by the Department came in response to the need to create a commercially viable and sustainable basket for the small-scale fisheries sector.

This allocation has brought about mixed feelings within the small-scale fishing community in the Eastern Cape. Coastal Links in the Eastern Cape have highlighted that, while they support the 15% allocation it is not sufficient to support the growth and success of small-scale fishing cooperatives.

“We are happy that the Minister has included squid to the basket but the size of the allocation is too small. A mere 15% for squid shows that there is no real or fundamental commitment to ensuring small-scale fishing cooperative grow and thrive,” said Coastal Links Chairperson in the Eastern Cape Ntsindiso Nongcavu.

Masifundise’s Project Manager Carmen Mannarino added that there is a need for true transformation to happen when allocations are granted.

 “While this is a landmark allocation for small-scale fishing cooperatives and is a very positive move towards creating a sustainable basket, this is not adequate to bring about equity and transformation within the fisheries sector,” said Mannarino.

“Small-scale fishers continue to face significant challenges in terms of capacity building, infrastructure such as boats, cold storage and processing facilities. This also means that they cannot fully take advantage of the allocations they receive, as they might not be able to catch, access and develop value-chains needed for squid. Small-scale fishers therefore become vulnerable to entering contractual agreements with commercial companies, who will make profits off the fishing rights and allocation of small-scale fishers,” she added.

The allocation of species to small-scale fishers is one part of the issue, the other part is empowering and supporting small-scale fishers to fully benefit from their allocations, through developing local value-chains and markets, to ensure that allocations are able to strengthen local economies, livelihoods and nutrition in small-scale fishing communities.

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