Fishing co-operatives from Kleinmond, Hawston, Hermanus and Buffelsjagbaai recently attended a workshop hosted by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform on 28 and 29 September 2016, to look at how to start their businesses, and how to manage their finances and work with the banks.

Mary Hull, chairperson of Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA) in Kleinmond and a member of the local co-operative, said that the workshop was arranged by the Local Economic Development (LED) Department of the Overstrand Municipality, who has been helping them to try and make a success of their co-operatives.

“The co-operatives that attended the workshops were mainly fishing co-operatives, and others were commercial co-operatives doing business in other sectors,” said Hull.

Hull said that they started organising their co-operative early last year already, but that it was only registered at the beginning of this year.

“We are the Kleinmond Vroue Co-operative, we are nine women, and we started the project to create work for ourselves, we do not have work and we have many difficulties due to lack of income.”

All the members of the Kleinmond Vroue Co-operative also registered to be verified as small-scale fishers under the small-scale fisheries policy (SSFP).

The Kleinmond Vroue Co-operative is not part of the small-scale fisheries policy (SSFP), and that all their members are small-scale fishers and that they will become part of the co-operative that will be formed by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) within the SSFP.

But, at the moment they will work in this co-operative, since it is able to generate an income for them now, by harvesting mussels, processing it and selling it.

“As a co-operative, our main business is to harvest the mussels, and then we will either smoke or pickle it, and then package it in a glass bottle.”

At the moment, Hull said that they are harvesting the mussels with a recreational permit which they take out at the post office, and which only allows them to take out a limited amount per day.

“At the moment we have not done any business yet, and we the workshop helped us, since it looked at how to start the business.”

At the moment the women are working from Hull’s house, perfecting their skills in producing a good quality product, and getting the business off the ground.

“Once we are ready, we will buy our mussels in from Saldanha Bay, and also apply for a commercial permit to harvest our own mussels in Kleinmond.”

The Kleinmond Vroue Co-operative consist of nine women who are CLSA members and fishers.

“Our parents and grandparents were fishers, our mothers and grandmothers worked in the fishing factories around here, some of us are married to fishermen, we sell fish and some of us cut and gut fish to earn our daily income, and some of our members are on Interim Relief,” concluded Hull.

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