In February 2015 the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) began with the implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy (SSFP) by launching of the Small-Scale Fisheries Forum, gazetting of the draft Regulations for Public Comment and the call for Expressions of Interest.

The implementation of the SSFP was included as a strategic goal for DAFF over the medium term (2014/15 – 2018/19) and funds from the Marine Living Resources Fund were made available for the start of the implementation process for 2014/15.

In March 2015 Service providers were appointed and the Final Regulations and Marine Living Resources Act Amendment Act were promulgated in May 2015.

It was announced that the rollout plan aimed to implement the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy over a five-year period and the process consists of five phases.

Phase 1: Preparatory Phase

This phase lays a firm foundation in order to embark on the process of implementing the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy.

Phase 2: Development of Support Plans

This phase requires that a number of support plans be developed and implemented so as to enhance the implementation process of the SSFP.

Phase 3: Formalisation of small-scale fishing communities into co-operatives

This phase is the most critical one for the successful allocation of small-scale fishing rights because it is in this phase where all bona fide small-scale fishers have to be identified, verified and registered into small-scale fishing communities.

Phase 4: Allocation of fishing rights to small-scale fisheries co-operatives

This phase is the pinnacle of the implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy as this would be the official start of the small-scale fisheries sector when the fishing rights are allocated to small-scale fishing co-operatives in March 2016.

Phase 5: Management and support of small-scale fisheries co-operatives

This is the last phase of the implementation and requires three years of providing developmental support to the small-scale fishing co-operatives. This phase is required to ensure economic development and long-term success of the co-operatives.

The process indeed began in 2015 with the department calling on Small-Scale Fishing communities to register their communities as interested parties in the process. The Department received well over 300 expression of interest forms from fishing communities.

This year, the department commenced with the registration and verification of fishers in 4 coastal provinces but it saw Kwazulu Natal lagging behind in the process due to the squabbles over the service provider.

This was later resolved and fishers in the Kwazulu Natal province were registered. The first province which saw the completion of the registration and verification process was the Northern Cape and recently, the department released a list registered and verified fishers in the Western Cape.

Currently there is anger among fishers over this process and many are to appeal the provisional lists.

The implementation of the policy is now in Phase Three where fishing communities have to be formalised into cooperative.

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