The small-scale fisheries policy registration and verification process in KwaZulu/Natal (KZN), the last of the four coastal provinces to be registered, is on track and the last six communities will be visited from now until the end of the month.

This is according to Phumeza Jantjies, assistant director for stakeholder engagement at the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

Jantjies said that in KZN a number of challenges reared its head, which almost brought the registration and verification process to a standstill in the province.

Fishers have to register and be verified as bona fide fishers to benefit from the implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy which is aimed at small-scale fishers and their communities that have been excluded from attaining fishing rights when the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998 was adopted.

The Equality Court of South Africa in 2005 decided that this was unconstitutional and ordered the South African government to develop a policy for small-scale fishers, which was eventually completed in 2012, and adopted by the South African parliament in 2014.

In 2016, after President signed the proclamation into law that gave effect to the implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy, the registration and verification process of fishers started.

Once fishers are registered and verified, they qualify to become part of a legal entity, to which fishing rights will be granted.

On July 12, 2016, DAFF reported the following on their Facebook page ‘Small-Scale Fisheries @DAFF.Small.Scale.Fisheries:

“Kwa-Zulu Natal has been the last of the four South African coastal provinces to go through the Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries – Directorate Small-Scale Fisheries’ registration and verification process. We started on 6 June 2016 and have now been able to register about 80% of communities of small-scale fishers. We have had three dedicated teams visiting communities and two of them will be completing their work by the end of July. The 3rd team is scheduled to complete its work by the 2 August 2016.

The challenges we have experienced is the unavailability of the independent members due to other commitments. A number of communities have expressed reservations about registration due to misunderstanding around the implementation policy. We have had a number of meetings with the communities to explain the process including the roles of the registration teams.”

The challenges Jantjies explains is that a few communities did not want to take part in the registration and verification process due to the involvement of Amagagasotshintsho due to a suspicion that these communities viewed them as a front for KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife Trust (Ezemvelo).

Jantjies said that these issues were sorted out after extensive discussions with the communities and positive engagements between DAFF, the communities and Masifundise.

“Masifundise and its staff members, Mandla and Lindani played a positive role in resolving the problems with the communities.”

The verification and registration process will be completed by the beginning of August, and after that, a ‘catch-all’ programme will be launched.

“The catch-all programme will be a second round of visits to communities where some fishers did not get the opportunity to register when we visited their communities the first time.”

The ‘catch-all’ programme will end by the middle of August.

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