Small-scale fishers in the Western Cape region have successfully completed the verification phase of the Small-scale Fishing (SSF) rights allocation process. This marks their progression to the next crucial step in the process, where communities will undergo cooperative training and registration and have their rights granted to them.

The verification process began in September 2022, with over 4000 applicants. After the distribution and collection of verification forms, 84% were successful in the process with more than 30% of successful and declared small-scale fishers being women. Those who were unsuccessful were given an opportunity to appeal the decision.

The next step in the process is to attend a mandatory cooperative training and registration session held by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) where they will grant SSF rights to fishing communities. The cooperative will be the entity that will hold the collective rights for all the bona fide fishers in each community.

The cooperative training and information session will take place over 2 days with each fishing community.

However, local fishers have raised concerns about the conduct of the sessions, particularly regarding the proposed approach to transportation and the use of a single central venue. These issues pose a challenge for individual fishers who must bear the costs to travel to the venue.

Members of fishing communities have raised another challenge regarding the effectiveness of training sessions that involve large groups ranging from 200 to 300 people. The registration of multiple cooperatives in the same venue simultaneously has the potential to create confusion and hinder the training process.

Sara Niemand, fisherwoman from Buffelsjagbaai, shared her experience of the cooperative training that took place in Gaansbaai,

“The venue for the training was not chosen well. We were too many people in one space and therefore, we couldn’t hear the facilitators when they were presenting important information. There was also no space for tables we could use to take down crucial information in preparation for setting up our cooperatives.”

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