By Nosipho Singiswa
Is there a political will to drive the success of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy?
The implementation of the policy process is “snailing”. One would even faint if it appeared in the State of the Nation (SONA) address.
10 years overdue and numerous postponements later, the Policy seems to be a heavy task to be undertaken by the small team employed to run the small-scale fisheries department.
The department running the small-scale fisheries unit has only 15 staff members and only 10 of them are permanent. How will these people be able to manage an entire sector across the coastal provinces?
While all policies which seem to serve the commercial agendas seem to be implemented on time Small-Scale Fishers are still waiting to receive rights.
The government even gives more attention to aquaculture rather than this policy.
While Small-Scale Fishers are waiting, a number of them in Kwazulu Natal and Eastern Cape are being oppressed.
More Marine Protected Areas are being introduced and the commercial sector keeps on scoring the bigger chunk of marine resources.
To add salt to the injury, even under the interim permit, a number of bona fide fishers receive no rights. Subsistence fishers are not allowed to sell their catches.
When it comes to implementation of the policy it seems like the government is deliberately sinking those who are in poverty further in.
While doing this, the government is violating human rights and opposing the right to food security.
Not forgetting violating customary rights of many fisherfolk across South Africa.
A famous case of violation of customary rights is the declaring of Dwesa-Cwebe a NO Take Marine Protected Area. Not forgetting the zoning of the Langebaan lagoon in the Western Cape, and denying the use of marine resources by the indigenous people of Kozi Bay in KZN.
I am sure the question on every fisher’s mind is will the policy ever be implemented?
To think about it, small-scale fishers have been waiting for ten years, how long do they have to wait until justice is served?
Nosipho Singiswa is an Information Officer for the Masifundise Development Trust. These are her personal reflections on the SSF policy implementation.