Following the promulgation of the Small-scale Fishing Policy (SSFP) in 2012, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) began registering new cooperatives along the coastline in 2016.
From the beginning of the process, small-scale fishing (SSF) communities across the country expressed their dissatisfaction with the way the cooperatives were being registered. Of huge concern was the limited training offered by DEFF for the successful management of their cooperatives.
None of these concerns were addressed.
In response to DEFF’s imposed registration process, small-scale fishers from Saldanha Bay, Laingville, Hopefield, Laaiplek and Paternoster gathered on 14 September, the day of registration, to protest against the registration of small-scale fishing cooperatives and the one-day cooperative training spearheaded by DEFF.
Norton Dowries an excluded fisher from Langebaan expressed his disappointment with the constant failings of DEFF. “We have won four court cases advocating for the rights of small-scale fishers however we are yet to see the fruits of them. I helped draft the small-scale policy, but I continue to fight for recognition as a small-scale fisher.”
Despite the “stakeholders” meeting held at DEFF two weeks ago, Masifundise supports the position taken by Langebaan fishers to not allow DEFF to proceed with the registration of the cooperatives until fundamental issues like the exclusion of traditional fishers is addressed. Furthermore, Masifundise will continue to challenge the rights and policy violations meted against small-scale fishers.