Government should assist communities in forming and sustaining cooperatives to limit the potential of cooperative failure in small-scale fishing communities. This is a sentiment expressed by delegates at a national workshop held in Cape Town this week.
The delegates, representatives of small-scale fisher communities and members of Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA) in the country gathered at the Fountains Hotel to receive training on aspects of Cooperatives and discuss the Fishing Rights Allocation Process and the implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy (SFFP).
Cooperatives have been chosen by DAFF to be the community based legal entity for small-scale fishers, where rights will be entrusted to. The workshop was to prepare small-scale fishers for this.
“Cooperatives will serve as a focal point of job creation for women, men and youth at municipal level, hence, the empowerment of cooperatives for our fishers,” Sithembiso Gwaza commented.
The 70 delegates, from KwazuluNatal, Northern, Western and Eastern Cape have all been part of the registration and verification process of the SFFP and now, with the exception of those from the Northern Cape, are awaiting announcements of qualifying fishers.
Now, awaiting for the department to make the announcements and also assist with training of cooperatives, the delegates reflected on their expectations of cooperatives.
“We want our cooperatives to work for our communities and bring about social justice and food security,” commented Sarah Niemand, who runs coops in Buffeljagsbaai.
Andries Cloete from Papendorp said that the allocation of sufficient rights is important, “We expect that the Department will allocate enough rights to our cooperatives, so that all members of the co-ops can have a decent living”.
The delegates also alluded to the empowerment of youth and women.
“The inclusion of women and youth into co-operatives is vital as we do not want any members in our communities left out from making a living,” commented Thoma Nkuna from KwaNibela in KZN.
Masifundise provided training and skills development within several key areas pertaining to the operation of cooperatives, including legal, financial and logistical considerations.
The training is aimed at the empowerment of fishers so that they are able to build sustainable livelihoods and achieve broader social justice.