Representatives from Masifundise and Coastal Links last week joined their partners from The Netherlands, Sri Lanka and India to reflect on an international fisheries research project.

The meeting was held in Struisbaai, Western Cape and the South African delegation consisted of Masifundise Director Naseegh Jaffer, Programme Co-ordinator Mandla Mqamlana, and field workers Nico Waldeck and Michelle Joshua.

The meeting was held to reflect on progress made by Re-Incorp since its inception in 2010 and to discuss the plans for the remaining 15 months of the project.

Serge Raemaekers of Re-Incorp said; “We are entering our last year of the project and needed to take stock of what the situation is in South Africa with regards to the small-scale fisheries policy, and in South Asia.”

During a time of reflection, the South African team noted some of the key moments that transpired during the project; these included the signing off on the SSF policy – both through parliament and the NEDLAC processes, The Amendments to the MLRA (Marine Living Resources Act) and launching important Court cases around MPAs which highlighted and brought about the acknowledgement of customary rights.

The South African delegates noted that the prolonging of the implementation of the Small-Scale Fishing policy presented the SSF sector with many challenges they could not have forseen.

Noting the group’s (South African) inability to adequately respond to challenges, the group said that this had changed the terrain in which the policy has to be implemented

“We have learnt some incredible lessons about the current small-scale fishing industry and we have discussed, as a matter of priority, plans to address the current state of fishing communities,” Michelle Joshua .

“The team committed to make the revitalizing of the SSF policy a priority for this last phase of the project and to focus on restoring the principles outlined in the policy” she continued.

The last day of the meeting, saw the group meeting with some traditional line fishers of Struuisbaai.  The fishers relayed their daily plight of having to face the influx of recreational and commercial fishers from other parts of the region coming to catch in their traditional fishing area.

The REINCORPFISH project was initiated three years ago, aimed at contributing to the reincorporation excluded fishers into rights arrangements. Participants include researchers from universities in the four countries.

REINCORPFISH aims to contribute to, review and assess the development of fisheries governance frameworks and institutional arrangements in South Africa and South Asia for the resolution of core fishery conflicts. A key focus will be on facilitating processes to reincorporate the excluded.

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