DAFF reports progress on policy implementation

The Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) have reported that they are making progress with the Small-Scale Fisheries implementation process.

According to the http://www.nda.agric.za/, they conducted road shows in four coastal provinces from 16 to 23 March 2015 to explain the draft regulations to stakeholders and to receive input from them.

Masifundise’s Eastern Cape organiser, Mr Lulamile Ponono, attended two of the road shows in the province. He said: “Fishers do not have clarity on the processes to be followed and there was a need for more discussion on regulations that will govern the SSF policy implementation process.”

“NGOs that were part of the policy formulation process should do follow up visits to empower and educate fishers,” he said.

Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa are gearing to participate in the implementation process through active engagement and critical evaluation.

DAFF reported on the policy implementation, as follows;

The road show covered four provinces, 27 venues and engaged with approximately 3 000 people.

The Draft Regulations 30 days public comment period was extended and the public were given another 30 days to comment due to requests that the department received from different stakeholders. The deadline is now the 6 of May 2015

On 27 February 2015 the department called for fishing communities to register their expression of interest to be part of the small-scale fisheries implementation process.

“The process is still open and once the Regulations are finalised, I will announce the last call for fishing communities to register their interest,” Minister Senzeni Zokwana had said during a ministerial intervention at the Tsitsikamma Road show.

Once this period has expired the Department will work with those communities that have registered their expression of interest in order to implement the small-scale fisheries policy.

The regulations must be finalised and the MRLA Amendment Act must be promulgated. The target date for the promulgation is June 2015 and once finalised, the minister will launch the official implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy.

Fishing communities will be provided the last chance to register their expression of interest – 30 days from date that notice is published in the Government Gazette.

All registered communities will be visited by DAFF in order to conduct the verification process of fishers and all successfully verified fishers shall be mobilised into small-scale fishery co-operatives by DAFF.

DAFF will assist small-scale fishing co-operatives to apply for a small-scale fishing right and rights will be allocated around March 2016. DAFF will facilitate training and developmental support for the small scale fishing co-operatives (MINISTERIAL INTERVENTION ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SMALL-SCALE FISHERIES POLICYDAFF, 2015).”

Linking the important aspects of Small-Scale fisheries

Policy Objectives: To recognise that the social, cultural, economic and ecological parts of small-scale fisheries are linked

The small-scale fisheries (SSF) industry, like any other industry does not operate in a silo. The industry and people termed as small-scale fishers have their own unique social, cultural, economic and ecological aspects that are interlinked to one another.

The various aspects of small-scale fishers vary from country to country, but at most times the small-scale fishers are recognised as fishers who fish near shore, use small vessels and at most time fish for own consumptions first.

How small-scale fishers interact (socialise) with others will automatically affect their culture, economic and ecological aspects and vice versa.

For example, if small-scale fishers in St Lucia, Durban interact with each other violently, their culture ( way of doing things – communicating) will be disturbed, there might be less interaction between community members and they might not want to share marine resources as they have been.

This could be the same if small-scale fishers would change their way of fishing (fishing culture) and use large boats and large nets, their marine environment (ecological)could be damaged and this will in turn affect their livelihoods (economic climate).

In most of the small-scale fishing communities, especially in developing countries, few people are fishing specialists the whole year round. Seasons when fish are simply unavailable may be one reason, but as Smith (1977 :253) notes in a more general sense, in most coastal communities in developing countries:“…fishing constitutes only one of the possibilities toward which the total focus of a people’s subsistence economy may be directed…while such a possibility may occupy a major percentage of the total work effort, or may provide the major source of nutritional benefit, no single subsistence effort exists in complete isolation from the other components of the subsistence economy” (Understanding the cultures of fishing communities: a key to fisheries management and food security, 2001).

As South Africa is in the process of implementing the Small-Scale Fisheries policy, the implementers of the policy need to be aware how one aspect of the small-scale fisheries industry can have a large effect on another aspect of the industry.

Therefore it is important for those rolling out the policy to know and understand every aspect of the Small-Scale Fisheries Industry.

Fishers’ Champion Kenneth Blaauw laid to rest

Hundreds of people gathered in Langebaan on Saturday for the funeral of fishers’ champion Kenneth Blaauw. The funeral was attended by fellow fisherfolk from Langebaan, family, friends and representatives of Masifundise and Coastal Links.

“Kenneth Blaauw was a very quiet man, his funeral well attended by fishers rom Langebaan who wished their fellow fisher to go and rest in peace,” said Solene Smith, Langebaan CLSA chairperson.

The traditional fisher and champion of rights for small-scale fishers died on the 11 of April at his home. He suffered from a stomach-related illness. He was 57.

Mr Blaauw came to prominence in 2008 when he was the main respondent in a case fought on behalf of small-scale fishers in the High Court. This followed a court application by Industry who asserted that the Minister of Fisheries had no right to give lobster fishing rights to a sector (artisanal fishers) that did not exist in law. They said only recreational, subsistence and commercial sectors had legal status. Industry cited more than a thousand names of poor fishers who were on Interim Relief at the time. They argued that these fishers were not entitled to receive fishing rights.

Blaauw presented an affidavit in this matter, on behalf of the 1245 small-scale fishers. The High court ruled in favour of Blaauw and the group, stating that the Minister was correct to award the fishing rights.

This was a great victory for the small-scale fishers since they would have been destitute without fishing rights, unable to make a living. Had the decision gone the other way, Industry would have further monopolised resources and very importantly, it would have struck a big blow to the unfolding Small-scale fisheries policy that was finally adopted last year. It would consequently have set back the struggle to have small-scale fishers recognised in law.

The SSF policy marks a dramatic shift from the past, giving the sector legal recognition, moving away from the destructive individual rights to a collective rights model and providing a framework for greater empowerment and equity for small-scale fishing communities.

“Kenneth Blaauw has made a huge contribution to the cause of small-scale fishers countrywide,” said Naseegh Jaffer, Director of Masifundise Development Trust. “We must ensure that his struggle is taken forward until the policy becomes lived reality in the lives of fishers around the coast,” he added.

A member of Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA), Mr Blaauw was part of the organisation since its inception in Langebaan in 2004.

“He was a man of not so many words, peaceful and happy and he liked to sing,” said Norton Dowries, a fellow fisherman from Langebaan. “Kenneth, is what you call a true fisherman,” he continued.

Blaauw began fishing when he was in high school, following in the footsteps of his father; he began his journey in fishing as a trek netter. After school, he would go to the beach with other boys and watch as the older men came back from sea.

Blaauw attended Langebaan English Church School and then he went to Schoonspruit High in Malmesbury. He completed Grade 9 before starting life as a fisherman.

Starting off as a trek netter during his teenage years, he also worked as “whaler” in a whaling boat and caught linefish, west coast rock lobster and snoek. He used to travel as far as Laaiplek to catch fish but was always a resident of Langebaan.

Health difficulties did not deter Blaauw from pursuing basic rights for all fishers. Despite his persistent efforts to advance the fishers’ struggle, Blaauw himself was a struggling fisherman at the time of his death and did not get to experience the rights that are pending in terms of the Small-scale fisheries policy.

“The name Kenneth Blaauw should be remembered and noted in the history of South African-Small-Scale Fisheries, “said Masifundise’s Michelle Joshua. “Though almost a decade has passed since Kenneth’s case was won, we are still working towards getting the SSF policy implemented and its intended vision realised. We should continue to lobby that the implementation of the policy benefit the traditional fishers first!! Long live the memory of Kenneth Blaauw,” she added.

“It is sad to hear that yet another fisher passed on without tasting the fruits of their struggle,” commented Nico Waldeck of Masifundise. “As Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa, we need to press harder for the implementation of the SSF policy,” he said.

Mr Blaauw made it possible for South-Africa Small scale fishers to have a policy today. Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa would like to pass their heartfelt condolences to his family and wish that his soul rests in peace.

Masifundise has expressed its sadness at the passing of “a fishers’ champion” who “practised solidarity in his daily life. “His passing is a great loss to his family, the community of Langebaan and the broader small-scale fisheries community,” said Masifundise. “May his soul rest in peace.”

Mr Blaauw leaves behind his partner, two sons and two daughters. His service was held  in Langebaan, NG (Dutch Reform) Church.

Masifundise attends Parliamentary Portfolio Committee meeting

Masifundise Development Trust, together with labour movements, black Small to Medium Micro Enterprises (SMME), Agri SA and DAFF attended the 3rd annual Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (AFF) Portfolio Committee meeting.

The meeting, held at Strand, Cape Town was for stakeholders playing a development role in AFF to inform the committee about what activities the portfolio committee should focus on for the next two years.

Some of the discussion points were the implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy, Inland fisheries, Agricultural matters and the International and Tenure guidelines.

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