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South Africa gives progress on allocation of fishing rights

The fishing industry needs more Africans in general to participate as Small Scale Fisheries (SSF) at all levels as primary fishers, processors and marketers, said Senzeni Zokwana, South Africa’s agriculture minister

The ocean economy, specifically the fishing sector is one of the profitable sectors yet underreported in terms of its opportunities for the economy at large. Since the appointment of Zokwana, there has been a firm commitment to make transformation and diversify the sector which is dominated by established foreign companies harvesting the marine living resources.

“Allocation of fishing rights to the previously disadvantaged sections of the society is my priority,” Zokwana added.

A lot of work is being done in this regard to open more access through quotas so that fields are levels for entrance. Ocean economy carries with it opportunities for this country, it has a potential to unlock numbers of employment opportunities whilst facilitating many downstream and upstream business opportunities including in its value chain.

In areas where there are no issues of social redress to level the access fields in marine living resources extraction, which is the biggest economic endowment the country has, the sector will act in ways that are non-interventionist.

Small Scale Fisheries Policy Implementation

The primary aim of the SSFP is to provide redress and recognition of the customary rights of traditional fishers and to promote the socio-economic development of these fishers and the communities in which they reside.

The department has started the SSFP implementation process with the amendment and promulgation of the Marine Living Resources Act and approval of the Small-Scale Fishing Regulations in March 2016.

Zokwana has approved the final list of SSF for Northern Cape (October 2017), Eastern Cape (December 2017) and KwaZulu-Natal (December 2017).

The department has also consulted on a proposed fee structure for the small-scale fishery in July 2017. After the final lists were announced the Department provided two-day compulsory training for the fishers in order for them to understand the workings of a co-operative, understand their roles and responsibilities and to adopt their co-operative constitution and complete the registration documents for their co-operative.

War against Abalone Poaching

Globally, fisheries resources available to bona fide fishers are poached in a ruthless manner by llegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, often leading to the collapse of local fisheries, with small-scale fisheries in developing countries proving particularly vulnerable.

However, action is being taken all over the globe to combat IUU fishing, in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, has had its hands full in terms of taking law enforcement action (arrest & issuing fines) against IUU fishing suspects in all four coastal provinces.

On 16 July 2018, 12 suspected poachers were arrested and a Boat confiscated with 1544 Abalone Units in Robben Island area. A Docket had been registered in Table Bay Harbour Police Station.

Preliminary Reflection on the Current Land Discourse

Minister Zokwana explained that in the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, the mandate is going to be impacted upon by the outcomes and processes that will arise from the consequence of land expropriation without compensation.

The department anticipates more small-holder farmers to emerge out of this path we are embarking and future commercial farmers and including their value chains.