Smangaliso Mageba a small-scale fisher and Coastal Links SA (CLSA) member who lives in the iSimangalsio Wetlands Park MPA, said that as a community, their main gripe is that they have not been consulted regarding the new set of draft regulations, that will expand the system of MPA’s throughout the South African coastline .
“This park has been declared a world heritage site, but my family and ancestors lived here long before it was declared an MPA, and a world heritage site later,” said Mageba, referring to the iSimingaliso Wetlands Park MPA.
“The cemeteries with the graves of our ancestors and forefathers are still here in the wetlands park.” The MPA was declared to mainly protect the sea turtles that comes to lay their eggs in the wetlands, and to protect the coelacanth in the Sodwana Bay area. The iSimangaliso Wetlands Park MPA is to be extended, in terms of the new proposals.
It should be noted that his community have been off marine resources for centuries, in what is now an MPA, and that harvesting marine resources for a living is for them a traditional and customary right and practice.
The changes to the MPA can further erode their customary and traditional practices to earning sustainable livelihoods.
At the moment, Smangaliso and members of his community cannot fish in some places, they can only harvest mussels and catch fish from the shore.
“Our communities in the park are unhappy, we can only fish as subsistence fishers, no commercial fishing is allowed, we cannot sell our fish, we can only fish to eat.
“We want to launch boats to go out to sea and catch fish that we can sell. If we want to do that, we have to go to the big cities. “There is no work here for people, if we are allowed to catch enough fish to sell, people will have an income”