A study launched by the Water Research Commission (WRC) has found that a clear policy needs to be drawn up if South Africa intends to establish a successful inland fisheries industry.
The WRC said that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) would be responsible for this, and that the commission could offer guidelines to assist DAFF in establishing appropriate policies.
“South Africa’s inland fishery resource endowment has been overlooked as a means of supporting sustainable livelihoods in the democratic era, lacking a guiding policy and legislation aligned with the country’s rights-based Constitution,” said a WRC statement.
The WRC also said that the absence of an equitable inland fishing governance framework with defined use rights had resulted in unmanaged and unsustainable fishing practices, conflicts between resource users, and the perpetuation of past exclusion of rural communities from the livelihood and economic opportunities linked to aquatic natural resources.
The WRC report ‘Baseline and scoping study on the development and sustainable utilisation of storage dams for inland fisheries and their contribution to rural livelihoods’ found that recreational fishing, subsistence fishing and commercial fishing were the three current sustainable uses for SA’s inland fisheries.
However, these activities competed for resources and this could lead to conflict if property rights were not “explicitly recognised and enforced”.
“If the rules of the game are not clear, it could lead to conflict, and this needs to be clarified,” said Dr Gerhard Backeberg, executive manager of water utilisation in agriculture at the WRC.
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