New programme to empower coastal communities
February 09, 2018
Northern Cape, South Africa: The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says it is finalising its small scale fisheries cooperatives training programme in the Northern Cape.
The small-scale sector is aimed at redressing the inequality suffered by coastal fishing communities which due to unintended consequences have remained marginalized through previous rights allocation systems.
The establishment of the small-scale sector also seeks to empower small-scale fishers to contribute meaningfully to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country, and to play a meaningful role in food security and job creation.
The department said that the process is informed by the Marine Living Resources Act and the Regulations thereof, which was amended to legally recognize small-scale fishers who have been living in coastal communities, and depending on fishing and its related activities as a source of livelihood.
289 fishing communities visited
Since March 2016, the department began in earnest a process to register, verify and recognise small-scale fishers and fishing communities, of which a total of 289 fishing communities were visited in the four coastal provinces to register small-scale fishers, as per the regulations relating to small-scale fishing.
From these visits, an overwhelming total of 22 580 individuals responded to be recognised as small-scale fishers.
“A well-detailed socio-economic baseline report of each and every community visited has been generated to better understand this new sector. The quantum of resources that needs to be made available to the small-scale fishing co-operatives will be determined by species habitat, and will be announced soon.
“The department is currently addressing this issue by reducing allocations in commercial fisheries to accommodate small-scale fisheries. This was evident with the 50% of the nearshore west coast rock lobster Total Allowable Catch (TAC) that was set aside for small-scale fisheries,” the department explained.
More resources to be transferred to fisheries
The department added that more resources are expected to be transferred to small-scale fisheries, as the current rights expire in the nearshore commercial fisheries.
“This will ensure that the basket for communities grows, thereby promoting a more economically viable future for the small-scale fishing sector.”
The department said it has also been in the process of facilitating necessary support programs that will be availed for small-scale fishing co-operatives to ensure that co-operatives maximize the value of their
fishing rights through meaningful participation in the entire value-chain.
“The department is encouraged and appreciates the number of private sector entities and other government entities that have pledged to support this new sector to ensure that the sector thrives. The department encourages more role players in ensuring that transformation in the fishing sector is realized.”
The programme is expected to be rolled out in other coastal provinces soon.