We plan to make 2015 the year of small-scale fishers. This is the year when the small-scale fisheries (SSF) policy MUST be implemented. We will not tolerate any further delays. The rotten interim relief system has been in place for nine years. The court had ordered that interim relief should be introduced for two years while the SSF policy is formulated and adopted. That was way back in 2007. The interim relief system is riddled with irregularities and causes divisions in poor communities. It must come to an end as rapidly as possible.

The SSF policy offers a paradigm shift from a destructively competitive system to a collective model with strong empowerment and developmental elements. It has the potential to move people from servitude to self-sufficiency.

We have held back since the SSF policy was adopted last year, hoping for rapid implementation. But we see no sign of urgency, no resolve from the centres of power.

In December, a big delegation from Coastal Links South Africa went to the offices of DAFF to hand over a memorandum with a list of grievances about the interim relief process.  This has been the start of a new energy among small-scale fishers. We realise that we have to make our individual and collective voices heard loud and clear in order to move the SSF policy forward. Our 4 000 members countrywide will be vocal and visible this year as we shepherd the SSF policy into the implementation phase.

The fishers will organise and mobilise under the banner of Coastal Links and Masifundise Development Trust (which serves as the secretariat of CLSA).

Each edition of The Hook will reflect on the activities that take place and the progress in the process. From our side, the call for implementation will grow louder and clearer with each passing day. There is no turning back!

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