4 March 2013

Permits for West Coast Rock Lobster – rights of true fishers taken away.

In South Africa, West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL) is a scarce entity and so you will find commercial entities, subsistence and recreational fishers all competing for access to it.

In fishing communities WCRL with other species is supposed to be a means of survival and a modest source of income for those who engage in subsistence fishing.

In communities like Arniston, Pearly Beach and Struuisbaai in the Western Cape, communities are currently facing a dilemma of having non fishers as part of their communal permits.

This is because the WCRL generates more income than other species. In one season a person could generate between R18 000 and R25000 for about 160 – 200 kilos. This is a small amount considering that a season lasts about 6 months and at times weather conditions are not favourable for fishers to go to sea, but this does not deter some community members who are looking to profit from the industry.

“Everyone is fighting for the WCRL because they do not have to physically get their hands wet,” said Anthony Engel from Arniston.

The fishing permit for WCRL does not require one to go to sea. Unlike Line Fish which can only be caught by a true fisher, the WCRL can be harvested by anyone. So instead of deserving bona fide fisherman receiving permits, one will find a person with a stable income being part of a permit list.

This means that an individual, fisher or non- fisher receives a WCRL quota then hands it to someone else  and in return, the permit owner just collects a pay-out  for what was caught for him/her by those who actually go to sea.

Could the permit conditions for WCRL be robbing real fishers out of an income?

As policy process drags on, fishers are exposed to daily dangers

“Due to the dragging of the IR system and the subsequent delay of the implementation of the Small Scale Fisheries Policy, fishers like the one who drowned in Elands Bay, will remain forced to practise unsafe fishing  practices”, said Christiaan Adam, chairperson of Coastal Links South Africa.

On Tuesday, Chasling Africa, a fisherman from St Helena Bay, drowned in Elands Bay after a small fishing boat, crewed by him and two fellow fishermen, capsized.

Mr Africa’s body was found off Elands Bay by the National Sea Rescue Institute hours after the capsizing took place about 100m off-shore.

This is not the first time a fisher dies due to unsafe fishing practices. Last year in October, two fishermen from Paternoster went missing after their fishing trip turned sour.

“The policy will better the lives of fishing communities and it will improve livelihoods, there will be better fishing and safety equipment for the fishers,” said Hilda April from Mamre.

“Fishers are vulnerable in times of unemployment, illness and on the death of a breadwinner… Minimum labour standards and the basic condition of employment for the sector, that accommodates the needs for safety at sea in the Small-Scale fisheries sector, should be developed in line with the national labour law and SAMSA requirements…”  Policy for Small Scale Fisheries Sector in South Africa (No.35455, 2012) South Africa: Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries.

The sooner the SSF-Policy is implemented the sooner co-management structures and safety regulations are in place.

Co-management structures will have much bigger decision-making powers and influence over sea-faring regulations. This will enable communities to make better and informed decisions regarding going to sea.

The implementation of this policy will also bring about bigger allocations or at least that is what fishers hope for.

CLSA leaders showed their sadness about the passing of the fisher.

”We are sad to hear that a fisher has passed away, this is why government needs to effectively implement the policy, such things can be avoided through monitoring and safety regulations,” Norton Dowries from Langebaan said.

Integrity of small-scale fisheries policy implementation process compromised

A meeting called by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to discuss aspects of the small-scale fisheries policy was deeply flawed, according to representatives of Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa who attended.

The meeting was held on 27 February at Century City and billed as the inaugural meeting of the Small-Scale Fisheries Forum. DAFF stated in an invitation letter that the main objective of the forum was to disseminate information pertaining to the implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy. The Forum would also be used to provide clarification and feedback on the progress of implementation.

Masifundise and Coastal Links SA this week issued a statement to outline the basis of their concern. The media release reads as follows;

Representatives of Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa attended a meeting convened by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries last week to discuss aspects of the small-scale fisheries policy implementation plan.

In an email invitation DAFF described the gathering as the inaugural meeting of the Small-Scale Fisheries Forum where information will be disseminated and aspects of the SSF implementation plan discussed.

There were a number of irregularities in this process;

  1. The representation was haphazard. DAFF had requested one person per community or organisation. While we stuck to this, others brought big delegations. A number of communities were not represented at all.
  2. The document containing regulations pertaining to the small-scale fishery sector was only distributed at the meeting and was not translated. This severely limited the capacity of fishers to engage or understand.
  3. The regulations document refers to the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998. This is the wrong reference as this act was amended last year to allow for the implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy.
  4. An Expression of Interest form which was unveiled at the meeting had already been distributed beforehand to a handful of communities. The form will be used to determine who qualifies as fishers and fishing communities. The distribution of the form to selected individuals and communities is irregular and unfair.
  5. We understood that this was a provincial meeting, yet there was a representative each from the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu Natal and none from the Northern Cape. None of the representatives from these provinces were traditional fishers.

“Clearly, there was little thought and project planning that went into this meeting,” said Masifundise’s Mandla Gxamlana.

“The process was seriously flawed and if this continues, then the integrity of the small-scale fisheries policy implementation process will be seriously undermined,” he continued.

“We are committed to working with DAFF to make a success of this process. For this to happen, they have to display a seriousness of intent which was sorely lacking last week,” he said.

We call on DAFF to correct these weaknesses in the future engagements that will take place. Meetings must be fully representative and the consultation process must be a genuine one serving the interests of small-scale fishers.

Issued by Masifundise Development Trust and Coastal Links South Africa, Station Road, Mowbray

Contact details

Nosipho Singiswa

ph +27 (0)21 6854549

074 470 4508

fax +27 (0)21 6853816

1 Station Rd, Mowbray 7700 (Cape Town)



FAO Tenure Guidelines protecting tenure rights: The case of Marine Protected Areas of South Africa

The International Voluntary Guidelines formulated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) promote secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests.

They serve as a means of eradicating hunger and poverty, supporting sustainable development and enhancing the environment (FAO 2013).

The FAO document is called Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security

In South Africa despite a well-documented history of marine resource use along the coast, small-scale fishers have faced ongoing exclusion from key marine resources. To date many small-scale fishers remain marginalised and endure forced removals from key coastal land needed to sustain their livelihoods.

This happens under the guise of conservation which is Marine Protected Areas.

Fishers have typically been left out of key decision-making processes to declare sections of the coast Marine Protected Areas (MPA), which in South Africa – are predominantly no-take zones which exclude all fishers from harvesting marine resources (Emdon, 2015).

How people, communities and others gain access to land, fisheries and forests is defined and regulated by societies through systems of tenure. These tenure systems determine who can use which resources, for how long, and under what conditions. The systems may be based on written policies and laws, as well as on unwritten customs and practices (TradeMark Southern Africa, 2014).

As South Africa prepares for the roll-out and the implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy, organisations such as Masifundise have an obligation to assist and empower Coastal Links South Africa members.

Under the new small-scale policy, communities will need to establish what their tenure arrangements will be and they will need to know and understand the many governance frameworks governing resources.

The processes that will unfold with the implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy speak directly to what the Tenure Guidelines promote and how they can be used to empower communities.

In the next weeks, we will take a look at how The FAO Guidelines on Tenure can be used by small scale-fisheries living in and adjacent MPAs.

WFFP: Open letter to the President of the Republic of Honduras

The struggle against Ocean Grabbing is a struggle of all fisher peoples across the world. In solidarity with the Honduran fishers and the Honduran WFFP members, the WFFP has urgently alerted the president and the members of the national congress to adhere to their international obligations.

Read it here: http://worldfishers.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/WFFP-open-letter-to-the-president-of-Honduras.Feb_.2015.pdf

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