11 February 2015

No answers from DAFF- what about the fishers?

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has not respondent to a memorandum outlining a list of grievances from the Western and Northern Cape small-scale fishers.

In November 2014 small-scale fishers from about 20 coastal towns in the Western Cape delivered a memorandum with a list of grievances to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The memorandum handed to DAFF officials by the leaders of Coastal Links was a stance by the fishers to request the department not to ignore the many lives affected by the constant mismanagement of the IR system.

“Permits have been issued late, bona-fide fishers have been removed from lists and replaced by non-fishers and general mismanagement by the department caused much conflict in the communities” CLSA stated in the memorandum.

The fishers listed six grievances in their memorandum, but the department never responded. Instead, the commotion around the Interim Relief Permit System got heavy and left many fishers without permits and food on the table.

Till today fishers from Arniston have not received their permits and fishers in the Northern Cape received their permits late when they could not even catch lobster due to weather conditions.

Which leaves the fishers with a question, when will their grievances be dealt with, and will the towns that got their permits late and those that have not received their permits be compensated?

Arniston Permit Woes

Four Months into the 2014/15 fishing season and fishers in Arniston are yet to receive their permits. Fishers from the area have been told that their permit is due to be issued and this comes with information that they also have a new representative that they do not know about.

In a media release issued by Coastal Links in 2014 – fishers from Struuisbaai, Pearly beach and Arniston where in logger aheads with the department regarding the flawed allocation of lobster permits issued in these areas.

They had urged that the Department of fisheries urgently investigate this allocation and take corrective action, then they did not know that four months into the 2014/15 fishing season, Arniston will be sitting without a permit.

“This really is upsetting the fishers, who fought and went to marches so that they can get the IR” said Rowina Martinhuis CLSA representative in Arniston.

To worsen the wound, the bona fide fishers of Arniston who were part of the IR lists since 2007 are taken off and are replaced with commercial fishers (who have long term fishing rights).

In a community meeting (which Masifundise attended) held by DAFF in Arniston last year, a DAFF official told the fishers who were currently under the commercial long term rights, that they could deregister from the commercial system to have their name in the IR list. This caused an uproar with the original IR members resulting to them leaving the meeting not satisfied.

“DAFF should not employ officials that do not know the history of how the IR came about” said John Europa , “ These officials send out the wrong message to fishers and thus assist community members to be in conflict with each other” he continued.

“The fishers in Arniston have many questions.” said Michel Joshua, Masifundise’s field worker in the Overberg.

On top of this, talks amongst Arniston fishers regarding DAFF electing a new community representative of which they do not know about, is also tearing the community apart.

“The festive season has come and gone, schools have reopened and the fishers need an income. DAFF’s silence is unacceptable” continued Michelle.

The Overberg region, not the only region that has been riddled with many IR permit issues, has been torn apart because of the IR permit system. Families are turning against each other and fishers are forced to get into debt due lack of income.

This leaves fishing communities in dire positions.

Inland fisheries – exploring new avenues for food security.

Inland fisheries is a source of many livelihoods for people living in rural areas and in many countries it provides jobs for millions of people.

The New Partnership for Africas Development  (NEPAD) says that a recent estimate of employment and income for seven major river basins found that in West and Central Africa alone fisheries provides livelihoods to more than 227,000 full-time fishers and yields an annual catch of about 570,000 tons with a first-sale value of $295 million, while in the whole of Africa over 10 million people are supported by fisheries (http://www.nepad.org/foodsecurity/fisheries/inland-fisharies).

Recently the South African Minister of Agriculture forestry and Fisheries while visiting communities in the Eastern Cape Province said that alongside agriculture, inland fishing holds the key to job creation, the fisheries sector, including aquaculture, has a critical role to play in meeting one of the greatest challenges confronting the world – food security (http://www.daff.gov.za/daffweb3/Home/aid/161).

The scoping study on the development and sustainable utilisation of small-scale inland fisheries done by BN Tapela, PJ Britza, QA Rouhani in 2014 provides a knowledge base to inform the development of policy and institutional arrangements for inland fishery governance. – See more at: http://www.plaas.org.za/plaas-publication/RR-inland-fish1#sthash.FNQg99Wn.dpuf.

Could it be time for South Africa to explore the possibilities of inland fisheries and develop a policy that will provide income and food security for the many depended on resources provided by this fishery?

WFFP member organisation t NFF takes on government over deep sea policy in India

“The National Fishworkers’ Forum has opposed the Centre’s move to grant permits to deep sea fishing vessels, which would potentially facilitate entry of foreign operators at the cost of the livelihood of the native fisherfolk” writes the Hindu Newspaper.


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