The Western Cape Small-scale Fishing (SSF) rights allocation process is nearing completion. The final phase involves SSF communities registering their cooperatives. This will finalize the rights allocation process for all four coastal provinces in South Africa (Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal, and Western Cape), under the Small-scale Fisheries Policy regulations.

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE) conducted a mandatory 2-day cooperative training and registration process with SSF communities in the province from 15 May to 13 June 2023. During the training, each community took part in a session on cooperative functioning and elected an interim board for their cooperative. The board consists of 5 to 6 members responsible for managing the cooperative, while the remaining members include small-scale fishers’, fisher women, and youth involved in the sector.

As part of the training and registration process, fishing rights application forms were provided to the cooperatives.

However, there have been concerns raised by SSF communities in the Western Cape regarding the process. Those who appealed the outcome of the verification processes in May are still awaiting a response. The department noted that all successful fishers after appeals will be included as part of the co-operative however, they will not be able appear as founding members.

Jonathan Julius, Community liaison officer for the Western Cape, explained that “It will be unfortunate because bona fide fishers who have worked in the sector for years will not get the recognition as founding members due to the delay of the outcome.”

Additionally, some SSF communities have encountered problems with the certificates issued by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), as distributed by the DFFE. There have been instances where the lists do not contain names of successful applicants and names of people from other communities are included. Moreover, certain communities are frustrated because they are required to submit their ID copies and proof of address again, despite already submitting these documents during registration.

The DFFE has confirmed that the establishment of cooperatives and the allocation of fishing rights in the Western Cape will be completed in time for the 2023/24 fishing season.

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