25 February 2015

Kwazulu Natal and Eastern Cape

Small-scale fishers ready to take a stand

Small-scale fishers in Kwazulu Natal and the Eastern Cape want their voices heard and demand decisive action from government.

The fishers have experienced huge difficulties in recent years as they wait for the small-scale fisheries policy to be implemented.

The following obstacles stand in the way of traditional fishers making sustainable livelihoods;

  • They operate with subsistence fishing permits which prevent them selling their catch and generating an income.
  • Permits are issued late and to undeserving beneficiaries and limited rights are authorised.
  • The management of Marine Protected Areas which at times deny traditional fishers their customary rights.
  • The arrests and unfair treatment of fishers by DAFF and MPA officials.

Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa have been calling for the fishers to be granted an exemption so that they can sell their catch.

A CLSA leader in KZN Mr Bethwel Sithole has said; “Subsistence permit fish allocation is at a minimum, we need to get authority to catch more fish and to sell what we catch.”

Christiaan Adams, the national chairperson of CLSA said he found it strange that Western and Northern Cape fishers are allowed to sell their catch while it is forbidden for fishers in the other two coastal provinces. “When fishers try to earn a living, they are turned into criminals,” he said.

Small-Scale fishers are forced to find alternative income opportunities. “We end up selling our catches illegally as we struggle to make ends meet,” lamented, Mr Ntsindiso Nongcavu fisher in Port St Johns. “Other fishers end up looking for employment but jobs are scarce,” he continued.

These matters will all be resolved through the comprehensive and swift implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy. The Dwesa-Cwebe MPA court case is in progress.

Government has announced that the SSF policy will be implemented this year. A training workshop in KZN and a bilateral meeting between DAFF and Masifundise last week, are positive steps forward,  MDT Director Naseegh Jaffer believes.

He said he hoped 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.

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.

There will be 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.

Issued by Masifundise Development Trust Communication Unit for Masifundise Development Trust and Coastal Links South Africa.

If you would like more information on these issues and would like to conduct interviews, invite the two organisations for discussions, do contact the MDT Communication Unit:

Contact Person: Mansoor Jaffer or Nosipho Singiswa

Tel: 021 6854549

Mail: infocom@masifundise.org.za


 “To court – may be our last resort” – Arniston Fishers

Bona fide Arniston Fishers who were removed from the Arniston Permit list say they will go to court if it is the last thing they have to do to resolve the Arniston IR permit problems.

Arniston have been faced with permit woes since 2013, when line fishers who were part of the Arniston IR list were removed and replaced with non-fishers.

From 2006 until 2013, the community of Arniston was at peace, until the West Coast Rock Lobster was introduced in their interim package.

“Since West Coast Rock Lobster became available in the area in 2014, non-fishers have become interested in becoming part of the IR permit” Anthony Engel a bona fide fisher from Arniston lamented.

“Unlike with the Line fish Permit, with the WCRL, you do not have to go sea, so this means you can be part of the IR system without even being a real fisher,” he continued.

In 2013, Coastal Links South Africa, representing over 4 000 small-scale fishers in South Africa negotiated for 20  WCRL permits to be allocated in the area due to the scarcity of line fish.

Lists were agreed upon, through discussion, and included bona fide fishers who relied on the ocean for subsistence. At the commencement of the crayfish season in November 2014, new lists appeared out of nowhere that included a number of undeserving beneficiaries.

The fishers and community have been reporting this matter to DAFF on numerous occasions, but no sound explanation can be given to the community as to how this change happened.

“In 2014, we received an official letter from DAFF with our names on the list and few days later the list had been changed and DAFF could not give us answers as to why and how this happened” commented John Granfield a line fisher from Struisbaai.

In a memorandum that CLSA delivered to DAFF in November 2014, an official list that was signed by the minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 2013 was also presented to DAFF officials. This list had mysteriously changed when rights were allocated by officials. The department promised to correct this but this has not happened.

Masifundise met with DAFF officials last week who promised to solve the issue and giving feedback to the community and Masifundise by this week.

Responding to DAFF’s view that fishers, CLSA and MDT should also take some responsibility for the crisis, CLSA chairperson Christian Adams said;

“Yes, grassroots organisations have a responsibility to ensure that members of its organisations work together, but they cannot be blamed for the mismanagement of the department and political influences that the department’s officials are subjected to”.

It is now four Months into the 2014/15 fishing season and fishers in Arniston are yet to receive their fishing permits as a result the bona fide fishers of Arniston who have been unfairly excluded in the IR List have had enough and are ready to take the department to court.

“DAFF has handled the matter poorly and we have given them numerous chances to solve the matter” said Mr Felix, a line fisher in Arniston.

“The bona fide fishers who have been on the list since 2006, must return to the list, or else we will take the department to court, this is our bread and no government official has a right to take my food away from me”.

Spreading the message

Governments and corporations around the world have huge propaganda machineries to promote their aims and objectives and, sometimes, to conceal their nefarious activities.

Everyone wants to get their message out, to as vast an audience as possible.

Masifundise and Coastal Links have been building and expanding its communications network for the last two years. Using multi-media platforms, MDT and CLSA is spreading its own strong message; it is a good, positive one; that small-scale fishers have a fundamental human right to have sustainable livelihoods.

MDT and CLSA have pursued this vision by promoting progressive legislation and empowering fishing communities through united action.

The activities, programmes and aspirations of fishers have been made public through social media, articles in mainstream publications and this weekly electronic newsletter, called The Hook.

In addition, a range of publications have been produced, from a quarterly newsletter in four languages and information brochures to annual reports and handbooks.

A highlight of the communication unit’s work in 2014 was its efforts around the World Forum of Fisher People’s General Assembly, held in South Africa in September.

“We combined our platforms with those of the WFFP to publicise the conference and its contents, both here and abroad,” said Mansoor Jaffer, head of the communications unit.

Nosipho Singiswa, also a member of the communication team said there were plans afoot to strengthen the media and communication work in 2015.

“Currently we are working on expanding the footprint and impact of our weekly electronic newsletter, so that it can become and important source of information to the fishers, our partners, NGOs and the general public,” she said.

In order to get information from MDT or CLSA, please contact: infocom@masifundise.org.za

Economic value of Small-Scale Fisheries

Small-scale fisheries make key contributions to food security, sustainable livelihoods and poverty reduction yet, until recently, governments, multinational institutes and the private sector has focused on the commercial fisheries sector.

This has left the small-scale fisheries underdeveloped and its contribution to the development of the economy under-valued.

Small-Scale fisheries provide nutritious food for local, national and international markets and generate income to support local and national economies.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture organisation says that the small-scale fisheries sector, including fishing and fish farming, is estimated to employ some 37 million people and that an additional 100 million people are estimated to find employment in associated SSF activities (FAO, 2013).

The economic value of small-scale fisheries has been poorly quantified and the contribution of this sector to food security and economic growth has over the years been undermined.

In Africa alone, over 10 million people are supported by fisheries and about 227 000 people in the West and East of Africa are employed by the inland small-scale fisheries sector (Nepad, 2008).

The South Africa Small-Scale Fisheries policy gives formal and legal recognition to artisanal fishing communities and is the first step that acknowledges the significance and the potential economic value of small-scale fisheries.

“The policy offers the potential to reconfigure fisheries governance, stimulate sustainable co-management of resources, and develop local economies in coastal communities through value chain development and complementary livelihoods,” commented Serge Reamaekers of the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, University of Cape Town.

The policy says: “Experience suggests that for the large majority of households involved in fishing activities ( full time or seasonal) in developing countries, fishing and related activities have not generated high economic returns, but instead have helped them to sustain their livelihoods and have prevented them falling deeper into poverty” Policy for the Small-Scale Fisheries Sector in South Africa (No.35455, 2012).

There is not much research papers available on the economic value of SSF in South Africa but the statement above can be challenged by looking at a number of researches done in different parts of African countries where fisheries (small-scale fisheries) generates an average of 82% of all household income.

For example in 2010, Madagascar small-scale fisheries extracted an estimated 5524 metric tons (t) of fish and invertebrates primarily from coral reef ecosystems, of which 83% were sold commercially, generating fishing revenues of nearly $6.0 million. (Barnes-Mauthe et al, 2013)

In Mozambique, Fisheries contribute 3–4% of GDP, over 80% of total fish landings are accounted for by the small-scale sector and about 334 000 Mozambicans depend directly or indirectly on small-scale fishing (marine and freshwater) (Benkenstein, 2013 ).

While in the Seychelles, the small-scale fishery which includes the artisanal and semi-industrial subsectors, contributed between 1% and 2% to GDP annually and the fisheries sector, as a whole, contributed 7.7% in 2008.  17% of the total population is employed in the fishery, 30% of which are active in the small-scale sector, while 10% of the population is directly dependent on the small-scale sector. (ASCLME project, 2011 )

At the moment, there is little evidence available and one cannot put a finger on the total economic value of Small-Scale Fisheries in the context of South Africa.

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