The Hook continues the series on sections of the Small-scale fisheries (SSF) policy. This week we look at importance of linking the important aspects of Small-Scale fisheries

The small-scale fisheries (SSF) industry, like any other industry does not operate in a silo. The industry and people termed as small-scale fishers have their own unique social, cultural, economic and ecological aspects that are interlinked to one another.

The various aspects of small-scale fishers vary from country to country, but at most times the small-scale fishers are recognised as fishers who fish near shore, use small vessels and at most time fish for own consumptions first.

How small-scale fishers interact (socialise) with others will automatically affect their culture, economic and ecological aspects and vice versa.

For example, if small-scale fishers in St Lucia, Durban interact with each other violently, their culture ( way of doing things – communicating) will be disturbed, there might be less interaction between community members and they might not want to share marine resources as they have been.

This could be the same if small-scale fishers would change their way of fishing (fishing culture) and use large boats and large nets, their marine environment (ecological)could be damaged and this will in turn affect their livelihoods (economic climate).

In most of the small-scale fishing communities, especially in developing countries, few people are fishing specialists the whole year round. Seasons when fish are simply unavailable may be one reason, but as Smith (1977 :253) notes in a more general sense, in most coastal communities in developing countries:“…fishing constitutes only one of the possibilities toward which the total focus of a people’s subsistence economy may be directed…while such a possibility may occupy a major percentage of the total work effort, or may provide the major source of nutritional benefit, no single subsistence effort exists in complete isolation from the other components of the subsistence economy” (Understanding the cultures of fishing communities: a key to fisheries management and food security, 2001).

As South Africa is in the process of implementing the Small-Scale Fisheries policy, the implementers of the policy need to be aware how one aspect of the small-scale fisheries industry can have a large effect on another aspect of the industry.

Therefore it is important for those rolling out the policy to know and understand every aspect of the Small-Scale Fisheries Industry.

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