Thinking Supplementary Livelihoods for fisherfolk

Small-Scale Fishing communities need not only depend on fishing related activities for sustainable livelihoods. Fishing resources are already limited due to overfishing, corporate greed, poaching and pollution, among other things.

It is thus important for fishing communities to embark on livelihood initiatives that support fisher communities to diversify or strengthen income opportunities without increasing pressure on natural resources.

Supplementary livelihoods for fishing communities should not only be viewed at a narrow “fisheries perspective” e.g. Aquaculture, dried fish, etc[Alternative or Strengthened Livelihoods,], but space should be given to other ways fishing communities can support their lives and generate additional income  for their families.

This does not mean that fisherfolk should stop fishing, but it means that those that do not go out to sea can carry out other activities, to supplement the income generated by fishers. It also means that, when the fishing season is closed, the family does not go hungry because there is someone else in the family who is involved in other means of income generating activity.

For example, in Cambodia , the Regional Livelihoods  Fisheries  Programme, an initiative by the Food and  Agriculture Organisation supports a Boat Docking Business. In Vietnam they support an initiative that converts waste into cooking fuel. These initiatives are in coastal communities, and they use available resources to support the income of fisher families.

In the case of South Africa, fishing communities have been involved in supplementary livelihoods such as post-harvest activities, making crafts and gardening. But are these ways sustainable and do they really assist fishing communities generate more income? Do they assist the fisherfolk to have a better life? Do they assist the fisherfolk to be safer at sea, to continue fishing and not to have to stop fishing due to a lack of support/resources?

As we are heading towards the implementation of the Small-Scale Fishing Policy and the transformation of how small-scale fishers are viewed, those involved in this sector will have to think about ways small-scale fishing communities’ livelihoods can be supported.

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