The implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy (SSFP) has experienced major set-backs and rights allocation will not happen by the end of March, said Craig Smith, Director of Small-Scale Fisheries, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

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However, there is some progress as the department recently completed taking in appeals from the Eastern Cape and appeals submitted by Western Cape communities are being assessed.

“The implementation process has suffered major set-backs and we will not be able to allocate rights by envisaged date, nonetheless we are now in a process of announcing provisional lists for Kwazulu Natal,” said Smith.

Kwazulu Natal was the last province to be identified and registered as it had faced major teething problems with the implementation process. 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 (NC) and a list of registered and verified fishers was released with the appeals process completed in November 2016.

“Northern Cape appeals have been assessed and submission still needs to be drafted for approval by the minister on the final list (Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana).”

The Western Cape (WC) and Eastern Cape (EC) appeals process ended in October and December respectively and while the Western Cape assessments of appeals are underway, the Eastern Cape appeals submissions closed at the end of January.

The appeals process brings DAFF closer to a very important step of policy implementation. The finalisation of small-scale fishers list will see community co-operatives formed, then rights allocated to those cooperatives.

DAFF will facilitate the formation of co-operatives once final list of successful fishers are announced and facilitation will include basic co-operative training for fishing community members.

While there has not been an announcement of what species will go into the Small-Scale Fisheries basket, the duration of rights for SSF, from three years to fifteen years has been considered.

“Duration of fishing rights will follow a submission route to the Minister for a final decision. Issues of prioritisation of resources for small-scale fisheries would have to be considered at the present moment with the allocation of commercial Abalone and West Coast Rock Lobster rights,” Smith told The Hook.

The basket of species for small-scale fisheries has been a major issue with small-scale fishers demanding that they should not be given the scraps and that fishing rights should be allocated adequately across all sectors.

The SSFP is a progressive policy that aims to secure rights for small-scale fishers. The policy moves away from individual right allocation to an allocation process that encompasses collective responsibility and has a developmental focus. More importantly, the policy gives legal recognition to the small-scale fishers of South Africa.

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