19 February

Policy implementation: The first, small steps

This week saw some movement towards the implementation of the small-scale fisheries (SSF) policy with a training workshop in Kwazulu Natal and a meeting between a senior DAFF delegation with members of Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa.

At the workshop in KZN, participants were told that the (SSF) policy could be implemented by June next year.

The workshop, held on 16 and 17 February, was organised to assist fishers prepare for the implementation of the SSF policy. It aimed to unpack and explain the roll-out plan for the implementation process. The workshop was hosted by Ezemvelo, the KZN wildlife conservation body.

Attended by fishers, scientists and fisher organisations, the group was informed that fishers can expect to receive their rights by June 2016. An identification and verification process will be in place and communities co-operative will need to be established.

Masifundise was represented by Sithembiso Gwaza and Lindani Ngubeni and a number of Coastal Links SA members were in attendance.

“The fishers will need to prepare for the implementation of the policy and be part of the identification and verification process so that they are not left out,” said Lindani Ngubane, Masifundise’s Field Worker in KZN.

“We have to make sure that we are on the ground and we are keeping our fishers informed,” continued Lindani.

On Wednesday 19 February, the DAFF Deputy Director Mortimer Manye led a delegation of officials who had come to discuss the policy implementation roll-out plan with Masifundise and Coastal Links representatives.

The Director of Masifundise, Naseegh Jaffer, believed this was a positive step and said he hoped that there would be no further obstacles in a process that began more than a decade ago when the Equality Court ordered the formulation of the SSF policy.

The meeting and the workshop in KZN signalled that there was some momentum building with the implementation process.  It is clear that a number of hurdles would have to be crossed that include dealing with sectarian interests and the lack of capacity, both from the State and fishing communities.

The first step, it appears, is to get the draft regulation for the SSF policy debated and amended until it is broadly accepted.

The department will make the draft regulations for the policy available for public comment and are planning for these regulations to be promulgated by 4 May this year.

Other elements will include the appointment of service providers, the identification of small-scale fishers, the setting up of legal entities and the implementation of development programmes.

“ We are pleased that this process is moving forward,” said Christiaan Adams, Chairperson of CLSA “ Fishers have been waiting for years and they are not willing to wait for another year, this is the time that we legitimise small-scale fishers” he continued.

Small-Scale Fisheries Policy

In 2005 when the government adopted long-term fishing policies that made no provision for small-scale fishers. Masifundise, Coastal Links, the Artisanal Fishers Association of South Africa and the Legal Resources Centre took the matter to the Equality High Court.

The court ordered the government to develop a policy that includes small-scale fishers and that an interim relief package is extended while this was being done. Masifundise and Coastal Links engaged in wide-ranging advocacy initiatives during this period and afterwards. In 2012, the policy was finally adopted by national Cabinet. The majority of its contents had been proposed by Masifundise, Coastal Links and partners. For the policy to be implemented, the Marine Living Resources Act had to be amended. This process was concluded in May 2014.

Benefits of the new policy include the following:

  • The formal, legal recognition of artisanal fishing communities, for the first time.
  • A move to collective fishing rights, away from the individual quota system that excluded the majority.
  • The demarcation of exclusive fishing zones for small scale fishers, where they will be able to harvest or catch anything throughout the year. The potential for ongoing sustainable income will be considerably enhanced. These zones will be out of bounds for big commercial fishing companies.
  • Clear benefits for women, in fishing communities, from both fishing and value chain involvement.
  • Women will be able to actively take part in fishing activities and participate in the management and regulatory systems at local and national level.
  • Improved marine resource co-management.

The implementation process could only happen once the Marine Living Resources Act was amended. This process was complete in May 2014.

Gender in Fisheries

By Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries for the Asian Fisheries Society

“Women and marginalised groups must  build autonomous organisations to promote a human-rights based approach to the SSF sector, including advocating that the implementation plan for the SSF International Guidelines must focus on transformative changes for equitable, gender-just and SSF sustainable development,” said Katia Frangoudes at a 5TH GLOBAL SYMPOSIUM ON GENDER IN AQUACULTURE AND FISHERIES held in India in 2014.

Read the report here

Monster boats are gobbling up the fish and it’s not fair!

By Greenpeace

“Fish species are being driven to near extinction and low-impact fishers are being forced out of work. It’s not fair to me, to the ocean or to the communities whose livelihoods depend on it. Monster boats have no place here nor anywhere”!

Read more: http://act.greenpeace.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1844&ea.campaign.id=33015

 Indigenous knowledge, co-management key to MPA success

Indigenous knowledge, community participation and fishers rights must be strongly factored into the planning processes and management of Marine Protected areas.

This was strongly advocated by small-scale fishers and fisher representatives at an MPA forum attended by Masifundise and Coastal Links in Langebaan this week.

The Forum, organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature together with the Department of Environmental Affairs saw an increased number of small-scale fishers attending and contributing to discussions related to how the management of MPA’s directly affects their livelihoods.

Small scale fishers in South Africa have a troubled history with MPAs, almost all of which were declared “No Take Zones” with no consultation with communities living in or adjacent to the MPA’s. Fishing communities have been displaced; fishers have lost access to traditional fishing grounds and key areas for marine resource harvesting.

Masifundise’s Programme Coordinator Leila Emdon co-facilitated a discussion with Jackie Sunde and Merle Sowman of Environmental Evaluation Unit on the Human Dimensions of Marine Protected Areas. Kicking off the discussion on the importance of including small scale fishers in all matters related to MPA, Leila Emdon argued that small-scale fishers’ indigenous knowledge need to be incorporated in scientific research and that fishers need to be an integral part of all aspects of MPA planning and management.

The trio urged that all stakeholders must work closely with organisations and groups that represent small scale fishers.

Six members of Coastal Links South Africa, Sthembiso Mbongeni Shange (from Kosi Bay KZN), Gazani Thomas Nkuna (St Lucia MPA KZN), Malibongwe David Gongqose (Dwesa Cwebe Eastern Cape) and Norton Dowries from Langebaan spoke about their communities’ experiences of MPAs.

They said that many fishers experience little benefit from MPAs but they face exclusion by management and abuse from rangers. However, as they shared their concerns, they also explained that while they do not discredit the benefits of MPAs there needs to be a different relationship between conservation agencies and MPAs.

Some people in the audience criticised the fishers and openly disputed their testimonies, while others applauded the fishers for speaking openly at this platform and expressed a commitment to work closer with communities in future

Expressing her view about the forum, Leila Emdon said “We are pleased to see an attempt by conservation agencies to work with communities living adjacent to MPA’s and we are happy that there is a changing consciousness that is becoming more aware and attuned to communities affected by MPA’s”.

Despite the big strides made this past week in including small scale fishers in the conversation, Masifundise is still critical of the small number of community members that were able to be present at the forum.

“We hope that in years to come, more and more small scale fishers will be invited to the forum and will be an integral part of setting the agenda for the meeting, we remain critical of the dominance of a conservation and fisheries science agenda – devoid of community voices, devoid of the critical importance of marine resources in securing food sovereignty for small scale fishers in South Africa and devoid of incorporating indigenous knowledge and fishers rights in their research findings, management plans and spatial planning” she continued.


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