Small-scale fishermen said “general mismanagement” by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has deprived them of sustainable livelihoods and was causing conflict in fishing communities. At the root of their problem with DAFF was the department’s failure to finalise and implement new legislation that has been pending for nine years.
Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA), which represents 4 000 small-scale fishermen countrywide, issued a statement saying that a delegation of fishermen from Western Cape coastal towns would deliver a memorandum to DAFF in Cape Town to demand that long-awaited legislation that makes provision for small-scale fishermen, be implemented as a matter of urgency.
The memorandum, said CLSA, detailed their frustrations over “the continued mismanagement of temporary fishing rights measures” which should have been replaced by new policies almost a decade ago. In 2005 the Government adopted long term fishing policies that made no provision for small-scale fisherman, said CLSA.
After the matter was taken to the Equality Court, the court ruled in 2007 that a new policy needed to be developed and an interim relief package for small-scale fishermen be formulated and implemented. “The Interim Relief Permit system was meant to provide temporary relief to fisherman who did not benefit from Long Term Rights.
“Interim Relief, which began in 2007, were meant to be in place for only one year but is now in its ninth year,” said CLSA.
The Small-scale Fisheries (SSF) policy was finally adopted in 2012, and the Marine Living Resources Act this year – opening the way for the implementation of the SSF policy. But, implementation is not taking place, according to the CLSA.
“Persistent faults in the Interim Relief system are denying thousands of people in small-scale fishing communities across the Western and Northern Cape their livelihood rights,” said CLSA.
There were “deliberate discrepancies in the Interim Relief system that were having a devastating impact on fishing communities”, the group said.
Problems with the temporary system highlighted by the CLSA included: late issuing of permits, inclusion of non-fishermen in beneficiary lists and persistent allegations of corruption in the allocation process.