“Twenty one years after the advent of democracy, it is high time that small-scale fishers taste the fruits of freedom,” says Masifundise Development Trust.

Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa are calling on the authorities to go ahead and implement the small-scale fisheries policy, and do so comprehensively.

“Our members, some 4 000 small-scale fishers from around the country, cannot wait any longer for the implementation of this policy, which they fought for and participated in formulating,” said Masifundise Director Naseegh Jaffer.

Small-Scale fishers in the Northern and Western Cape face the ill-fated Interim Relief, whilst fishers in the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu Natal have no rights to sell their catches, face unfair treatment by officials and some fishers get killed.

“The proper implementation of the SSF policy will correct historic injustices and put an end to the irregularities, inefficiencies and inequalities in the quota and interim relief systems, “said Mandla Gqamlana, of Masifundise.

Throughout the country small-scale fishers find themselves losing access to many marine resources which they use to sustain their livelihoods.

“The injustices of apartheid and colonialism continued after a democratic state was established,” said Gqamlana. “The policy provides a framework for small-scale fishers to escape a relationship of servitude and become self-sufficient.”

The benefits that the policy will bring to fishers are to be realised once the process of implementation continues.

The Policy stipulates how men, women and the youth within small-scale fishing communities will be developed. There will be jobs, food security and poverty alleviation for fishing communities.

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 formulation, adoption and implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy are a big step forward for the struggle of small-scale fishers for human rights and dignity.

The policy lays the foundation for a break with the past and a new beginning of empowered fishing communities.

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