Key Small-Scale Fisheries Policy Objective: Human Rights Principles

The Small-Scale Fisheries policy is there to right the wrongs of the past, to bring balance and justice to the small-scale fishing sector.

Through the policy, small-scale and artisanal fishers will rightfully benefit from marine resources and are given legal recognition as industry players of the fishing industry.

Adopting an integrated and holistic based approach on human rights principles, is one of the policy objective and this week, we take a look at this objective.

Human rights are universal and inalienable; indivisible; interdependent and interrelated. They apply to all equally. They are upheld by the rule of law and strengthened through legitimate claims for duty-bearers to be accountable to international standards (United Nations Population Fund, 2005).

Human Rights Principles are components of the United Nations International human rights instruments and standards.

These instruments and standards provide a broad framework for the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms of all human beings (A RIGHTS-BASED APPROACH TO REALISING GENDER EQUALITY, 2010).

Not recognising people’s way of livelihoods, and introducing policies that excludes, discriminates and drives people further into poverty was and is a violation of human rights.

The MLRA of 1998 and long term fishing policy adopted in 2005 marginalised small-scale and artisanal fishers, including those who are involved in post harvesting activities.

With the Human rights principles being Universal, Indivisibility, Participatory, Transparency, Non-Discriminatory and Accountability; the MLRA and the long term fishing rights introduced by the South African government were not:

Universal: Fishing rights were not afforded to the small-scale fishing sector.

Indivisible: The long term fishing rights were devoid of the cultural or customary rights. SS fishers could not access marine resources and their uses of these resources were limited.

Participatory: The exclusion of the small-scale fisheries sector showed that government excluded this group in policy-making. Therefore the principle of Participation was not included, for if small-scale fishers were included then their rights would have been recognised and granted to them.

Non-Discriminating: Small-Scale fishers were not legally recognised by the South African government, thus their rights were not guaranteed.  The exclusion of this sector in the MLRA and in the Long term Fishing allocation process automatically threatened the livelihoods and security of those within small-scale fishing sector.

People have a right to participate in how decisions are made regarding protection of their rights. (National, Economic and Social Rights Initiative; 2012)

The public participation process on the Regulations for Small-Scale fishing is one way that government is adhering to these principles. All information and decision-making processes relating the policy implementation and roll out must made public.

As we are in the implementation and roll out stages of the policy, the government has a key facilitating role to play in achieving all policy objectives.

Government has to make sure that policy processes are inclusive, fair and transparent. There must be effective measures put in place so that the government can be held accountable whenever the implementation process is not adhering to the five principles of human rights.

Peasants, pastoralists and indigenous people meet at world forum in Tunisia

The World Social Forum is sitting in Tunisia bringing together small-scale food producers from around the world.

The forum started on 24 March and will finish on 28 March.

Masifundise Development Trust’s Carsten Pedersen, representing the World Forum of Fisher Peoples told the Hook that he would speak at a ‘convergence session’ this week on land and water/ocean grabbing. This is perpetrated by elites who privatise resources meant for the common good.

“The convergence sessions aim at bringing together social movements of peasants, pastoralists, women, indigenous people and others in the fight against unjust policies imposed upon small-scale food producers,” said Carsten.

Coastal Links South Africa’s National Chairperson Christian Adams is also in attendance and addressed a session yesterday.

His presentation dealt  with local struggles for the rights to water, land and fish.

In his presentation, Christian explained the struggles fishers went through when they fought against individual quotas that were introduced by the 2005 fishing policy.

The World Social Forum seeks to strengthen and create new national and international links among organisations and movements of societies.

“This is another unique opportunity for Coastal Links to share experiences with social movements from across the world and across sectors,” continued Carsten.

The World Social Forum is an open meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and interlinking for effective action.

This is a forum by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neoliberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism (World Social Forum, 2015).

The session on Convergence of Land and Water Struggles the World Social Forum was well attended by 200 people from social movements across the globe. Christian Adams, and Carsten Pedersen were the only delegates to speak specifically about fisheries.The majority of the delegates represented peasants, herders, indigenous peoples, and other social movements. Masifundise’s partners Transnational Institute (TNI) and Africa Contact (Denmark) also participated in the session.

According to Christian Adams, the WSF is an unique opportunity to promote the human rights of small-scale fishers globally, “By telling our story about how Coastal Links South Africa, I not only put our coastal fishing communities, like Langebaan, on the world map. I also share our struggle and give inspiration. But for us, as Coastal Links, get to realise that we are not alone in the struggle against neo-liberalism” says Christian Adams

Carsten Pedersen gave a talk on the International Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries. Presenting at the session on international instruments, he emphasised that while the guidelines are not yet implemented, it still gives the WFFP an opportunity to influence fisheries governance reforms.

He highlighted the case of the FAO UserRights currently taking place in Cambodia, “our engagement with the FAO in the process of planning the conference in Cambodia, gave the WFFP an opportunity to push for the guidelines and its principles to become integrated in the programme” he said.

The fact that the framing of the conference now makes explicit reference to these and the Tenure Guidelines, reaffirms that the guidelines can and must be used when advocating for the livelihoods and human rights of small-scale fishers across the world.

The International Secretariat of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples is based with Masifundise, South Africa.

Masifundise visits Vanderkloof Dam outside Orania

Masifundise took its first small steps into the world of fresh water fisheries when a two Masifundise’s staff embarked on a visit Vanderkloof Dam outside Orania this week.

Field worker Michelle Joshua and communication consultant Mansoor Jaffer met with a range of stakeholders discussing a government proposal that explores the potential of fishing in the dam for livelihoods and poverty alleviation.

The government’s announcement of an experimentation project has stirred some controversy with a powerful lobby of recreational fishers claiming that the fish resource was under threat.

The proponents of the project, the government and other stakeholders, say that from their observations, there is fish in abundance.

However, there has been no recent scientific research done and so claims of abundance or scarcity are largely anectodal.

In a separate matter, small-scale fishers are being blocked from kraal fishing near the dam wall, because it is located in a security zone. Fishers have been arrested inside and outside the zone for either trespassing or fishing illegally.

The kraal fishing, which entails building a safe area surrounded by rocks, is an ancient Khoisan method. Mealies are placed in the space and when the water rises, the fish head there to feed. When the sluice gates close, the water rapidly drops and the fish are trapped in the kraal.

Masifundise supports the rights of small-scale fishers to sustainable livelihoods.

Tenure and Fishing Rights at FAO

Rights- based approaches on fisheries is highlighted this week at a Food and Agriculture Organisation conference held in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the conference is to foster a mutual understanding of the challenges faced by different groups in fisheries communities and to find common ground and options for empowering the future for fishers and fisheries.

Masifundise’s Director, Naseegh Jaffer, is representing small-scale fishers at the conference. He will deliver a presentation on how the South African fishing rights allocation system has evolved in the past 20 years.

His presentation will emphasise the provisions of the Small-Scale Fishing Policy and its effects on the South African fishing sector and the allocation of right to communities instead of individuals.

The conference started on Monday 23 March and will end on Friday 27 March.

For more information on the conference go here:

Fisheries: Tenure Rights and Marine Protected Areas

By Leila Emdon

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), tenure refers to the rules that “define how rights to land and other natural resources are assigned within societies” as well as “rights to use, control and transfer these resources” FAO 2012).

Tenure defines and distinguishes between ‘who is a user and, therefore, who has rights in the resource and who does not’.  This requires legal and sociological assessments such as asking questions like: Is there historical use, by whom and how? What perceptions of rights are common in the area?

“Tenure is about more than resource management. It relates to basic human rights; it has symbolic value and is about self-determination and should be guided by subsidiarity as a governance principle.”

This also requires constructive political processes and examining the socio- economic and cultural attributes such as wealth, heterogeneity, land tenure, stability, class and caste of the group impacts resource use and practices, thereby tenure.

Governance of tenure emerges from local context and processes; local law is hence a determinant of the tenure system. If no tenure arrangement exists (or it is ineffective or unacceptable), then a new system must be appropriate to the cultural and historical situation and capacities of the fishery.

As stressed in FAO (2005), “When designing management measures, it might be appropriate to consider those which provide exclusive or preferential access for small-scale fisheries.”

Coastal and marine spaces are often characterised by complex systems of ‘sea tenure’, which are important to map and use in decision-making around MPA practice.

With regards to MPA success it has been proven that biological and social success in MPA practice is closely interlinked through:

  • Providing for adequate time to understand local tenure systems and for developing genuinely consultative and participative processes (including for conflict resolution) around MPA practice;
  • Ensuring that international commitments to recognizing rights of ILC, including participating in decision-making, is reflected in legislation, policy and practice at the national level;
  • Recognizing and supporting different governance types, including community-led management and co-management;
  • Capacity building support designed to enable communities to establish, claim and strengthen their rights and fulfill their responsibilities, including with respect to other sectors, and;
  • By recognising that there are power differentials within communities that need to be addressed.

MPA practice has to move towards greater equity and participation, both as an end in itself, and as a means to more sustainable conservation and management.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial