The Aukatowa Small-scale Fishing Cooperative of Port Nolloth has taken a stand against extractive developments that are impacting their community and livelihoods.

On 25 April, an information session took place and was led by the Aukatowa cooperative in the Port Nolloth community hall. The meeting was held to inform the community about the several extractive developments set to take place that will negatively impact their environment.

In the Northern Cape, there are active cofferdams being run by diamond mining company, Alexkor. In January this year, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) laid charges against Alexkor due to illegalities around their operation. However, they have not stopped operations and continue despite the irreparable harm it has on the ocean and marine life.

A new seismic survey application has been made by energy company, Tosaco Energy. They sought to explore offshore oil and gas in the Northern Cape.

The Boegoebaai Harbour is another development to be led by the Northern Cape provincial government and is intended for economic opportunities that could change the socio-economic status of the province. Small-scale fishers have concerns around the harbour as it could have a negative ecological and environmental impact hence, threatening their livelihoods.

Out of the session, a petition was drawn up to stop the operations of the cofferdams and those attending agreed to distribute the petition for more support. Additionally, the fishers plan to protest outside Alexkor against the cofferdam mining.

Coastal links leader from Port Nolloth, Walter Steenkamp, shared information on a movement called the Namaqua Forum. The forum aims to gain support from both land and sea communities in the Namaqua region to help fight small-scale fishers struggles.

“Our entire Namaqualand says no to development without the permission and consultation of concerned landowners which includes the law of 9 lands. Our fisherman will be hit the hardest by these developments,” says Steenkamp.