It was envisaged that the implementation of the Small Scale Fisheries policy was likely to raise blood pressure levels in the commercial fisheries sectors.
When the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries held a meeting with members of the fishing industry on Wednesday 25 November 2015 in Cape Town to discuss the proposed TAC/TAE apportionments between sectors relating to the Small Scale Fisheries Sector, at first glance it seemed traditional inshore fisheries will be called upon to subsidise the introduction of the new sector. In particular Abalone appeared to be destined to be exclusively for the Small Scale Fisheries Sector.
“In addition to the Abalone Sector it appeared that the KZN Beach Seine Sector along with the Nett Fish and Seaweed Sectors will be split equally between the traditionally commercial rights holders and the Small Scale Sector. The Traditional Linefish (TLF) will see an increased portion of its effort allocated to the Small Scale Fishing Sector while the Commercial West Coast Rock Lobster Operators all shed an additional 27% of the TAC to the Small Scale Fisheries. White Mussels will also become the exclusive domain of the Small Scale Fisheries Sector and no commercial rights holders will be entitled to operate in the sector,” Dawsons, Edwards and Associates had reported in their blog in 2015 project management tools free.
While the Small-Scale Fisheries policy is being implemented and the commercial fisheries sector awarded rights, it seems what Dawsons, Edwards and Associates had predicted seem not to hold water. With almost all rights of the TFL awarded to the commercial fishery and only 28 rights left for the Small-Scale Fisheries Sector, it seems that the basket of species for SSF is diminishing.
Till this day, months after the implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries policy has commenced there has been no announcement of what rights will be in the Small-Scale Fisheries Basket.
In previous advocacy meetings with Masifundise, Coastal links and other stakeholders in the SSF sector the Deputy Director General of Marine Resources Siphokazi Ndudane, had said that when the department had only two sectors, commercial and recreational, there was nowhere within the operations where the department declared a split.
“Split becomes an operational thing when you actually do the allocations to each sector but we never announce it! The fact that we are not making this declaration is making people concerned that we may not allocate to SSF. It is absolutely no intention of ours not to reserve fish for the SSF.”
Nonetheless, this worries the SSF sector due to the fact that while the commercial fishery is receiving rights, the small-scale fishers are in the dark as to what species will be in their basket.
This is also causing common problems in the sector where you find bona fide small-scale fishers who have applied for a commercial right due to the uncertainty of rights in the SSF sector. It is also worrisome due to the fact that SS Fishers have been historically disposed of land and rights and their fishing vessels and they have seen their bread taken away from their hands.
Speaking to some of the Eastern Cape Fishers regarding the basket of species- there was concern over the lack of proper communication regarding what rights the fishers will receive.
Ntsindiso Nongcavu said that fisherfolk are encouraged to participate in the implementation of the policy but they do not know what they will receive as rights.
“As much as we are happy that our policy is being implemented and fishers identified, it is bothering us that we do not have tangible information as to what will be given to us,” Nongcavu lamented.
Masifundise’s Field workers in the Eastern Cape, Lulamile Ponono said that community members have been asking him when rights will be allocated and what they would receive.
“I am in pains as to explain to community members that we as an organisation do not know what fisherfolk will receive,” Ponono commented. “Community members are restless as they were promised an opportunity out of poverty and for food security yet are not sure what food and how much food they will get,” he further commented.
Serge Raemaerkers from the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at UCT said that not enough Total Allowable Effort (TAE) was set aside for small-scale fishers in the net-fish sector. He said that most if not all of the net-fish should be set aside for SSF and that there was a need to know what the line-fish TAE/TAC would be for SSF.
“We need to know how this current allocation to TLF and net-fish fits in with the broader effort for line-fish, and if space has been made for SSF, in Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwazuluNatal.” he commented.