Representatives of more than 4 000 small-scale fishers countrywide today took a unanimous decision to launch a mass campaign to secure their basic human rights.
About 70 representatives from Coastal Links South Africa branches in more than 100 coastal communities ended a four day national workshop in Cape Town vowing to scale up their struggle for sustainable livelihoods.
Frustration over the poor implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF) Policy lies at the heart of the challenges faced by tens of thousands of fishers in the sector.
The fishers plan sustained action at local, provincial and national level that will include marches to government offices, picket protests and co-ordinated action with other sectors of civil society.
The frustrations of fishers mainly came about because of:
- How fishing allocations have so far been done in the Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP), especially concerning the allocations of line-fish and net-fish rights, which leave very few rights for allocation to small-scale fishers under the Small Scale Fisheries Policy (SSFP).
- Some of the provisions contained in the ‘Government Notice – No. R, Marine Living Resources Act, 1988 (Act No.18 of 1998), Regulations Relating to Small-Scale Fishing’, which is the regulations that will govern the implementation of the SSFP.
- Government Notice No.40286 published in the Government Gazette of September 16, 2016, which deals with the duration of the allocation of fishing rights under the small scale fisheries policy.
Under the fishing allocations, fishers are concerned that under the line-fish allocations, only 28 rights remained after the minister allocated line-fish rights to the appellants who appealed against the FRAP 2013 line-fish allocations.
After the net-fish allocations made under the latest FRAP only 45 rights remained, and the representatives from fishing communities expressed their concern that when the allocations of West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL) will be made later, the same pattern will be repeated, robbing already impoverished communities of important rights in the fight for food security and food sovereignty.
Coastal Links South Africa leaders, representing 120 fishing communities along the entire coastline of South Africa, therefore will make a direct call on the Minister of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr Senzeni Zokwana, to:
- Halt all commercial West Coast Rock Lobster allocations until such time allocations can be made under the Small Scale Fisheries Policy.
- Immediately revoke all line-fish allocations, and ensure that communal allocations be made in the Northern-, Western- and Eastern Cape provinces.
- Immediately stop the victimisation, criminalisation and discrimination against small-scale fishing communities by compliance officers of the department.
- Immediately demarcate the exclusive small-scale fisheries zones, inclusive of an immediate suspension of all reserves adjacent to fishing communities, not excluding Marine Protected Areas.
- Immediately withdraw Government Gazette Notice #40286 of 16 September 2016. Small-scale fisheries are recognised as a customary practice and therefore no duration could be coupled to the exercise of such custom.
The dissatisfaction of fishing communities as expressed by the fisher leaders at the meeting is expressed in the poverty suffered by fishing communities and exacerbated by a flawed interim relief system which continues to be implemented by DAFF in the absence of the SSFP.
Fishers also expressed their concern at the continued dwindling of resources that is supposed to be included in the basket of species that is to be allocated to fishing communities under the SSFP.
Fishers are also unhappy about the fact that rights will only be allocated for three years, whereas rights for commercial fisheries are allocated for up to 15 years.
Fishers also expressed concern that the Regulations fall short of what the SSFP and the 2014 Amended Marine Living Resources Act stipulates.
Fishers are adamant, that should their demands not be met by October 10, 2016, they would put in place programmes and actions that compel the authorities to take action!