The Hook regularly focuses on aspects of the Small-scale Fisheries (SSF) Policy. This week we look at the section on food security, poverty alleviation and local economic development.

 Key Policy Objective: To recognise an approach that contributes to food security, local socio-economic development and poverty alleviation.

The small-scale fisheries sector is slowly gaining momentum within the South African Fishing Industry. The small-scale fishing policy is being implemented and the roll out will take place from 2016.

Small-scale Fishers and communities are entering a phase where rights to marine resources are shared amongst those deserving. The distribution of rights to small-scale fisheries and the commercial sector fisheries has to be based on human rights principles.

Those who are tasked to give marine resources rights will have to apply an approach that ensures that there is food security, socio-economic development and poverty alleviation for small-scale fishers and communities.

The small-scale fisheries food system compromises mainly of marine resources. The food from the sea that this sector produces, supplies and provides food security for many small-scale fishers.

Food security means that all people at all times have physical & economic access to adequate amounts of nutritious, safe, and culturally appropriate foods (Food Security Network of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2014).

Currently fishers from the West to the North Coast of South Africa are facing food security issues. They either do not receive equal access to marine resources and some do not have any kind of employment. This means that their physical and economic access to their food is not adequate.

Fishing quotas are small and access to the sea is not readily available. As permits are not delivered, families are borrowing money and sinking further into debt. When Marine Resources are closed off and turned into no take marine protected parks fishers families are suffering; fishers cannot put a food on the table.

Food security is a threat to many communities and the lack of food security is linked to poverty and low economic performances.

“If, over an extended period of time, a person is to convert potential labour power into actual labour power of any specified, physiologically admissible amount, he requires, among other things, nutrition of a corresponding quality and magnitude over that period” (Dasgupta, 1997, p. 6)…” (C. Bene et al, 2007).

Recognising social and economic development needs and seeking ways to overcome these needs is a vital policy objective and process.

“… if the person lives in an unhealthy environment, the result is poor nutritional status. In this case, this person suffers an impairment of the ability to do sustained work (Satyanarayana et al.,1977; Spurr, 1990; Bhargava, 1997), which usually results in lower productivity and wages (Strauss, 1986; Deolalikar, 1988; Alderman et al., 1996; Croppenstedt and Muller, 2000)” (C. Bene et al, 2007).

The general idea of socio-economic development “is to find ways to improve the standard of living within the area while also making sure the local economy is healthy and capable of sustaining the population present in the area” (Wise GEEK 2015).

The increase in food security contributes to socio-economic development and to poverty alleviation.

Fishing communities will see and have a better future. There will be better fishing, access to markets and other economic activities that instantly alleviate poverty.

The Small-Scale fisheries policy is therefore a progressive policy. It aims to better the future of fishing communities, while providing sound socio and economic development, food security, poverty alleviation.

The Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries’ core business is to ensure food security for all; and as the drivers and implementers of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy, their mandate is to make sure that all policy objectives are achieved and adhered to.

 Small-Scale Fishing regulations discussed at NEDLAC

The National Economic and Development Council (NEDLAC) convened a meeting on Small-Scale Fishing Regulations last week Monday, 30 March.

“We called the meeting to allow those who were part of formulating the Small-Scale Fishing Policy to raise their concerns regarding the regulations on Small-Scale Fishing” said Faried Adams, government representative at NEDLAC.

The meeting held at the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries offices in Cape Town was attended by members of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), organised labour and business. The Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), Fish South Africa (Fish SA) and Masifundise Development Trust were among those in attendance.

At the meeting, attendees expressed support for the rapid implementation of the policy and agreed they would submit comments on the draft regulations.

Representative of DAFF mentioned that they have started on the policy roll out and said that once they have received comments and formulated a draft document on these comments they will convene another meeting to give feedback to the group.

The meeting takes its origin from a previous gathering held in NEDLAC mid 2000 where a decision to transform the fishing industry and formulate a policy that will cater for Small-Scale and Artisanal fishers was taken.

The formulation of the policy would look at how the past management fisheries approaches that left traditional fishing communities without fishing rights and forcing them into poverty with no other alternative can be redressed.

The deadline for comments to be submitted was 6 April 2015.

The new policy entails a huge shift in approach with collective rights replace the destructive individual allocations. Small-scale fishers enjoy legal recognition for the first time, in terms of the SSF policy.

Small-scale fishers support Vanderkraal Dam Fishery project

Northern Cape small-scale fishers have come out in strong support of the Vanderkloof Dam Experimental Fishery project that is exploring the potential that fishing has for food security.

Raphael Benadie, a community leader that liases with fishers from Vanderkloof, Petrusville and Luckhoff told The Hook that fishing for food and income brings great relief to local communities.

He said the small-scale fishers want the project to work and, in addition, are proposing another project that entails the kraal method of fishing around the dam walls.

Recreational fishers have objected to the project, citing environmental and tourism concerns and claiming that the resource was scarce.

The small-scale fishers said that there has been no credible research done to back up this claim and that their experience continues to be that there was fish in abundance.

“Fishing for livelihoods is much more important than fishing for sport,” said Benadie and added that people must learn to share resources and spaces.

A two-person delegation from Masifundise – Mansoor Jaffer and Michelle Joshua – attended meetings in the area two weeks ago.

Masifundise supports the rights of small-scale fishers to livelihoods and incomes in a framework of environmental sustainability and community empowerment.

This is the first time that Masifundise works in the fresh water fishing sector. The base of Masifundise and Coastal Links is along the country’s coastline, consisting of some 4 000 fishers from 90 fishing communities.

“In principle, we support initiatives aimed at bringing relief to poor communities,” said Masifundise’s Mandla Gqamlana. “We would like to contribute to making the project a success,” but will have to look at ways in which this can happen”.

He added: “The Dam is a public resource and all residents – rich or poor – must be afforded equitable access.”

The Experimental Project is being built at a proposed cost of R1.3 million. The costs will cover fishing gear, a boat, a four- wheel motorcycle, a retail shop, processing plant and a salary for an on-site manager.

Government has contracted the Rural Fisheries Programme (RFP) by the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science at Rhodes University to investigate the potential of the fishery at the Vanderkloof Dam.

The experiment will proceed once a draft Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) for the experimental fishery has been finalised.

The Diamond Fields Advertiser reported last week:

“The experimental fishery will be monitored and all biological, economic, social and technical data will be allocated and analysed to determine the biological sustainability and economic feasibility of the experimental fishery. If results prove that the experimental fishery to be biologically sustainable and economically viable, recommendations for development of a subsequent small-scale commercial FMP will be recommended. If not, no further development of commercial exploitation of fisheries resources will be recommended.”

A fish processing plant, a composting plant and a multipurpose shop are amongst the infrastructure that needs to be installed before the proposed experimental fishery can be implemented.

The fishery will be comprised of fishing with a specified number of different gear type and configurations, including gill nets, long lines, hardlines and fyke nets, allowing for the determination of potential sustainable yield and to determine of resources are large enough to support commercial exploitation. The targeted fish will include smallmouth yellow-fish, catfish, mudfish and common carp.“

The huge costs of poaching and overfishing

“South Africa is losing billions of rands to illegal fishing, taking the highest place on the list is the poaching of abalone and lobster taking out R4 billion out of the country” writes Trust Matsilele of CBN Africa.

Statistics show that abalone and lobster are the most species falling victim to illegal and over fishing due to its demand in Hong Kong, China and Asian communities.

Poaching is prevalent around the world, despite efforts to curb it.

“There are three motivations for poaching; food, cultural and economic. When food is scarce, traditional hunters have been known to poach protected species in order to eat” writes Record an online news platform.

Many small-scale fishers have been (in the past) left out of receiving fishing quotas, and this  left them with no legal way of accessing the marine resources they depend on for survival. Even with the current Interim Relief system, many bona fide fishers have seen themselves losing out on obtaining fishing permits.

But does this make poaching okay?   Is it worth losing or depleting marine resources, breadwinners going to prison, and the money that is meant to build the economy to the black market?

With poachers having their “valid” reasons as to why they embark on this activity it is no rocket science that this has a terrible effect on the environment and fishing communities.

“Perlemoen poaching is unquestionably bad: it has pushed stocks to the verge of extinction and contributed to the rise of a range of social ills – gangsterism, turf wars, drug addiction and other undesirable by-products of the black market – in coastal towns throughout the Western and Eastern Cape”  (De Kreef, 2014).

Poachers face many risks including being arrested and being fatally wounded at sea. This can result in families losing their bread winners and in some cases acquiring a loan, thus getting into debt, to try and get this person out of prison;

The loss of endangered species that poaching contributes to has a significant impact on the ecosystems in which poached animals live. In the event of complete species extinction, these effects pose the threat of being highly detrimental and irreversible (News record, 2012).

Poaching does not only have terrible effects on animals, but it poses risks to the food security and livelihoods of many fisher communities.

Masifundise and Coastal Links are against poaching. The small-scale fisheries policy must be implemented as it provides a framework for fishing that supports livelihoods and protects the environment.

WFFP: Gaza Fisherman shot dead by an Israeli gunboat

By The Independent

“The underwater rock formations provide the best fishing grounds off Gaza, but they are just beyond the limit set by the Israelis for local boats. Tawfiq Abu Riyala dreamt up an ingenious plan to solve this problem; but it may have ended up costing him his life.” writes Kin Sengupta.

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