The Small Scale Fisheries Verification Process came to the Eastern Cape when more than 20 fishing communities were verified recently, as part of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy implementation process.
The first three communities, Mzamba, Orange Groove and Mawotsheni were visited on April 4, by the verification team that was led by the Department of Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).
According to the DAFF Facebook page (Small-Scale Fisheries), the community visits were well attended and registration of fishers was successful.
Ayanda Yekani of Hamburg, one of the fishers who registered, and a member of Coastal Links SA (CLSA) said that the process was smooth and that the service provider explained the process to all present and helped people to fill in forms.
“We had about 160 people in the hall, fishers and obviously some who were not fishers,” Yekani said.
Yekani finds this worrisome as a lot of people thought that they were coming to a job creation meeting, but that it is not really a problem if non-fishers registered, because as fishers they know who the fishers in the community are.
“DAFF will come back to our communities to verify the real fishers and when that happens, we as the community members will be able to assist in identifying the real fishers,” Yekani continued.
DAFF has also assured the small-scale fishers that this process will be regulated and safety nets are in place.
“We have a number of safety nets in place to make sure that small-scale fishers benefit from this process” Craig Smith said to Masifundise during a visit in Hawston, Western Cape a few weeks back.
When asked about those fishers who currently had commercial permits and registered to benefit from the SSF policy, Smith said if these fishers meet the criteria then it is their right to register.
“The difference will be that, once they qualify to benefit from the SSF policy, then they must choose whether they will be in the small-scale fisheries or commercial fisheries, but they cannot be in both,” Smith said.
Verification of communities is still continuing in the Eastern Cape until May.
KwaZulu Natal communities are yet to be verified and their dates and venues are still to be confirmed, but according to DAFF the process will begin in May.
For more information on community visits, visit DAFF Facebook page (Small-Scale Fisheries) and their website http://www.daff.gov.za/daffweb3/Branches/Fisheries-Management/Small-Scale-Fishing for any updates on community schedules.