‘Co-operatives should have an element of social responsibility so as to help the small-scale fisheries sector grow and attract those who are under 18 into the sector”.

So said a representative of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishers (DAFF) at a small-scale fisher forum held last week in Cape Town.

DAFF responded to comments on the Draft regulations relating to Small-Scale Fishing submitted by various organisations and communities. The comments submitted highlighted a number of issues pertaining to the SSF community and livelihoods.

Masifundise had commented that too much power was given to the minister and this took away the community empowerment aspect that the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy embodies.

Alluding to the fact that the Small-Scale fisheries policy is a policy based on a human rights based approach and that it aims to empower and give rights to small-scale fishers, Masifundise had said:

“It is trite that the Minister should act within the scope of the empowering statutory provision and for the purposes envisaged by the legislation – also in drafting regulations. Administrators, including Ministers, have no inherent power; they only have the power expressly provided by legislation.”

“We received the comments and a number of helpful issues were raised,” commented Abongile Ngqongwa, Deputy Director Small-Scale Fisheries Management DAFF.

According to the department, a number of issues stood out, these included how co-ops can assist in growing the sector, the buying of fishing rights from the commercial sector and the age in which one can access rights and child headed households.

“We are very much aware of the social ills that our communities are facing, for example the issue of child headed households in our sector,” stated Ngqongwa, “ hence we are saying the Co-ops should have social responsibility activities that will deal with such issues”.

The regulations are an extension of the Small-Scale fisheries Policy in that they provide a guide of how the resources provided in the Policy and MLRA should be used.

The stated aims of the regulations are to:

  • ensure equitable access to fish by small-scale fishing communities;
  • recognise a multi-species approach in the granting of rights to small scale fisheries;
  • transform the inequalities of the past fisheries system; and
  • address the high levels of abject poverty, socio-economic development and food insecurity in the small scale fishing communities.

The department is in the process of finalising the draft regulations and will make the final document available once the regulations have been approved by the minister. This will be done sometime in December.

“I can say to you that due to the comments we have received, the regulations have now totally changed from what they were. Once we have finalised everything, we will make the comments, our response and the final regulations available to the public,” Ngqongwa  continued.

Currently the department is taking in expression of interest from communities. This process is needed by the department in order to know that communities are interested to be part of the implementation process. The expression of interest forms are to be submitted by communities.

“We are still taking in the expression of interest forms, we are aware that we had said these are to be submitted only by communities but we welcome anyone to submit,” he commented.

In the months of October, November and December, the department will commence with the verification process. Interested parties are urged to submit the expression of interest forms so that they are not left out of the process.


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