By Nosipho Singiswa
Small-Scale Fishing communities should develop their own seafood products for the economic and social advancement of the community.
As the implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy (SSFP) is movingly slowly, small-scale fisher (SSF) communities have to think about activities that need to be undertaken under the policy.
The forming of legal entities or co-operatives is an imperative policy objective that will have to be fulfilled by SSF communities under the implementation of the SSFP.
Co-operatives need to have freedom to influence pricing agreements; a strategy for diversifying markets; the capacity to buy all their members’ production, regardless of quantity or the market situation and management plans for coping with oversupply (such as by storing and processing products) ( FAO: International Year of Cooperative, 2012).
In South Africa many SSF communities are not involved in the marketing of their catches. Fishers’ involvement in fishing ends in pre-harvesting and harvesting activities and do not go beyond. In many cases the involvement of fishers in processing, marketing and distribution is non-existent.
Fishers are dependent on one marketer to sell their fish. This will come at a cost of a fisherman receiving a lower price for their fish than what a fisher could receive if they were involved in post harvesting activities. This method also results in fishers accepting loans from “marketers”who play the middle man role between fishers and big industry players. At most times these loans will be secured by fishers even before the fishers get their permit for the season. This is one way fishing communities lose out on marketing and sector development opportunities due to vulnerability, a lack of know -how and opportunities.
In order to benefit from the entire value chain process involved in the fisheries, communities will have to be trained in hard and soft skills that will enable them to effectively be involved in pre and post harvesting activities. Opportunities for SSF communities to negotiate their own prices and also have access to export markets will have to be created.
“….It is hoped that by incentivising responsible fishing communities to play more of a role in the marketing and processing of their catches, they will benefit from better returns….. This will require the support of the formal retail and restaurant markets…” (WWF-SA, 2015).
Local consumers should be encouraged to pair with local food producers in order to pre-pay for a season of local produce, thus ensuring that fresh and healthy food are delivered to the consumers on a timely basis.
With the aim of providing food security ssf communities can thus develop products that will serve this purpose. Through locally marketed catches and by products of catches, jobs will be created for more people. This will result in economic advancement of the community.
The marketing activities of the fisheries industry are dominated by the private sector. The sea products that are harvested in South Africa are mainly exported. The bulk of the food that is produced in South Africa is sold outside the country.
Development and marketing opportunities for SSF should also be made available through the collaboration with the private sector. Although proper regulations will need to be put in place for this arrangement but commitment from the private sector to partner with SSF communities should be encouraged (C, Adams, 2015).
SSF communities have been involved in some traditional marketing and processing activities but are yet to reap the benefits of the whole value chain of SSF sector. The implementation of the SSF policy is a tool that will uplift this agenda, thus encouraging and ensuring job creation, food security and sustainable livelihoods for SSF communities.