Draft Regulations submitted to the department…
Masifundise submitted comments to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, on the Draft Regulation Relating to Small-Scale Fishing.
The regulations were gazetted on the 7 of April 2015. The final date for submitting the comments was on the 28 May.
Masifundise’s comments were based on the empowerment of the fishers that the regulations lack. They also touch on the amount of power given to the minister by the regulations.
“It is trite that the Minister should act within the scope of the empowering statutory provision and for the purposes envisaged by the legislation – also in drafting regulations. Administrators, including Ministers, have no inherent power; they only have the power expressly provided by legislation,” Masifundise wrote.
The comments also touched on a number of issues including legal entities and the recognition of customary rights.
“The proposed regulations must thus enable the Minister to identify and appropriately recognize, protect and promote the rights of customary small-scale fishing communities. This is not a suggestion; it is a legal imperative”.
Section 5 of the MLRA Amendment Act and the SSF Policy both explicitly recognize customary fishing rights in line with the Constitution. Some communities in South Africa, notably in the Eastern Cape and KZN, are able to demonstrate that they have, as a community and since time immemorial, accessed a particular resource in terms of the customary system of governance of their community.
“However, the proposed regulations do not even mention customary rights. We submit that this is a fundamental flaw that must be remedied in order for the Amendment to be enacted,” continued Masifundise.
In the first week of May, Coastal communities submitted their comments to the department.
Fishers support the Small-scale fisheries (SSF) policy, but were concerned that the regulations diluted the voice of the fishers and gave too much power to the Minister. Furthermore, they said that the regulations are not clear in terms of the purpose it needs to serve.
The gazetting of the draft regulation is a mandatory process by the government to hear the voices of those who will be affected by the policy.
The involvement of citizens in policy-making and implementation is important to strengthen and deepen democratic governance. It is through active public participation that evidence-based policy-making and responsive service delivery can take place.
Once the process of taking in comments is done, the department will have a final draft of the regulations.
The MRLA Amendment Act must be promulgated and the target date for the promulgation is June 2015. Once finalised, the minister will launch the official implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy.
Tenure Workshop raises awareness of the Guidelines…
Representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN), Trust for Community Education and Outreach (TCOE) will be amongst 70 delegates attending Masifundise’ workshop on the FAO Tenure Guidelines.
Civil Society and grassroots organisations representing SMALL scale producers, fishers, peasants, farmers, will come together to increase their knowledge and share experience relating to tenure and the governance of tenure in their communities.
Taking place from 8 to 11 June, in Cape Town, the workshop will encourage the increase of the use of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT) among civil society and grassroots organisations in South Africa.
SMALL scale producers, fishers, peasants, farmers, indigenous peoples and local communities face insecure tenure, increased poverty and food insecurity due to land and ocean grabbing, but this can all change, should governments all over the world, and in South Africa agree to implement the VGGT.
The VGGT, which were adopted by the FAO in 2012, seek to address and redress the imbalances created by insecure tenure regulations which cause landlessness, poverty, hunger and insecurity.
“We hope to raise awareness amongst community organisations about the Tenure Guidelines and also to have communities come up with their own strategies of how they can use the Guidelines for their benefit” said programme manager, Mandla Gqamlana.
Important objectives of the workshop include:
- To raise the awareness of small-scale fishers, small scale farmers and other rural landless communities about the contents of the VGGT.
- Enable participants to identify their tenure systems and to understand their tenure rights.
- Facilitate a process whereby participants can unpack how policies, processes and current governance frameworks challenge local ideal tenure arrangements.
- Facilitate a process whereby community members can establish a plan of action to mobilise for change using the tenure guidelines as a tool for change.
Participants of the workshop will be encouraged to come up with strategies of how they can use their tenure rights to secure food and better their community livelihoods.
“We are pleased that we can invite our communities to learn more about the governance of their land and natural resources” said Masifundise’s Sithembiso Gwaza.
“We are hoping that this workshop will help people know how to access natural resources that belong to them as Masifundise our aim to empower those who have experienced injustices that result to them having poor livelihoods and suffer from poverty,” Mr Gwaza added.
Melkhoutfontein and Vermaaklikheid communities ask to join Coastal Links SA…
Last week Masifundise’s Michelle Joshua and Coastal Links SA members from Arniston met with fishers from Melkhoutfontein and Vermaaklikheid in Stilbaai, Western Cape.
“The visits to Melkhoutfontein and Vermaaklikheid were both very refreshing and enlightening, fishers showed great interest in becoming organized and receiving information relating to the sector” said Michelle.
The fishing community in Melkhoutfontein consists of approximately 3000 people while the Vermaaklikheid community consist of about 200 people. Both communities have a history of traditional fishing and are almost 100% dependent on marine resources.
“Access to Melkhoutfontein was relatively easy besides travelling on a tar road throughout our destination,” commented Michelle
The road to Vermaaklikheid was more challenging and after almost an hour on a dirt road, the crew found the community tucked away on a hill almost 6 km from their traditional fishing grounds.
“This area is so secluded, that even the Arniston Coastal Links fishers who accompanied us on the trip, and who often fished in that area did not know about this community,” continued Michelle.
The meetings were attended by both SSF and commercial fishers. Fishers shared stories and difficulties they face, fishing gear, and fishing hot spots, but most alarming and concerning were their discussions around fish prices.
Vermaaklikheid fishers are getting R7 p/kg for Silverfish and R18 p/kg for Kappeljou and this after walking 6km to fish. Further to this, a lack of access to vessels keeps them vulnerable and dependent on the rich boat owners often forcing many into seasonal employment (farming, domestic work and gardening) where they are further exploited.
“If you compare these prices to Arniston fishers who get R20 p/kg for Silverfish and up to R45 p/kg for Kappeljou, the fishers in Vermaaklikheid are really getting a raw deal,” said John Europa a fisher from Arniston.
Some of the commercial fishers who attended the meetings were keen to know if they could join CLSA and if they will benefit from the basket of rights described in the SSF policy. Others were bold enough to express their frustration and described ‘government as being unfair towards the commercial fishers – only giving them rights to limited species’.
Arniston fishers shared their experiences and benefits of belonging to CLSA. They told fishers how access to information has helped them make informed decisions more specifically about sector policies and processes that affect their livelihood.
“It was evident that in both communities there was a need to access information and community mobilisation.” Michelle commented further.
Both towns indicated their wish to join CLSA. The meetings were concluded by identifying a contact person who was tasked with gathering the broader fishing community to a meeting to share the work of MDT and Coastal Links.
MDT and CLSA will schedule a follow up meetings later in July.
Small-scale Fishers: Recommendations to the South African Parliament
By Alex Benkestein
Alex Benkenstein is the Programme Manager of the Governance of Africa’s Resources Programme of the South African Institute of International Affairs, in this paper he recommends how parliament of South Africa can play a crucial oversight role in supporting the governance of small-scale fisheries in South Africa and contribute to efforts that may address the high levels of uncertainty and mistrust in the sector.
Read More: http://wp.me/a29R58-q0