Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on success of small-scale fisheries cooperative training programme

Small-scale fisheries cooperative training programme huge success

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (the department) is finalising its small scale fisheries cooperatives training programme in the Northern Cape. The programme will be rolled out in the other coastal provinces soon.

This sector is aimed at redressing the inequality suffered by coastal fishing communities which as a result of unintended consequences have remained marginalized through previous rights allocation systems. Furthermore, the establishment of the small-scale sector also seeks to empower small-scale fishers to contribute meaningfully to the GDP of the country and to play a meaningful role in food security and job creation. This process is informed by the Marine Living Resources Act (The 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.

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. 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.

Furthermore, the department has been in the process of facilitating necessary support programs that will be availed for small-scale fishing co-operatives to ensure that these co-operatives maximise 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 realised.

The department values the commitment from the communities in this last stretch of establishing the small-scale fishing sector.

Source: Government of South Africa