On Friday 26 February, The South African Government News Agency (SA News Agency) reported that President Jacob Zuma proclaimed the Marine Living Resources Amendment Act of 2014.

This lays the foundation for the long-awaited implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy, which has been more than a decade in the making.

SA News Agency reported that the presidency had said: “The implementation of the act is very important for the small scale fishers.”

The presidency further said that “the act’s predecessor, the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998 (Act No 18 of 1998), did not recognise small scale fishers or small scale fishing activities, and as a result, small-scale fishers were marginalised through the allocation of fishing rights”.

Confirming this report to Masifundise, Craig Smith, director for Small-Scale Fisheries said: “Yes, it is all systems go as the legal framework is now fully in place. We will be publishing the regulations shortly”.

Late in January the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries had said that the Small-Scale Fishing Regulations will be published once the President has promulgated the Amended Marine Living Resources Act.

The department said that these steps were essential to provide a sound legal framework to move the small-scale fisheries sector swiftly towards full implementation of the policy.

The Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF) policy was adopted after a lengthy process in 2012 and the 1998 Marine Living Resources Act was finally only amended by legislative structures in May 2014.

The policy recognises, for the first time in the country’s history, the rights of small-scale fishers to access food and nutrition from fishing activities as well as aiming to enhance the role of women in managing marine resources, marketing, tourism and aquaculture.

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