The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has called on members of coastal fishing communities to submit their expression of interest (EoI) to be verified and registered as small-scale fishers as the deadline to do so looms.
The department will, from today until June, visit coastal communities in the Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal to assist residents with the fisher registration and verification process.
Sue Middleton, the department’s Chief Director of the Fisheries Operations Support, said this when briefing the media and affected members of the fishing community at the Fountains Hotel in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“Together with the gazetting of the [Marine Living Resources Amendment Act] and the [publishing] of the regulations, we now have the legal framework to move forward with the implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy.
“Fishing communities who wish to be part of the small-scale fishing sector now need to register their expression of interest to indicate … that they need to be part of the sector. They have until the 7th of April 2016 to register,” she said.
The massive registration of the fishing communities marks the official implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy, which was actioned after Minister Senzeni Zokwana published the regulations of the Amended Marine Living Resources Act in the government gazette on 8 March this year.
The promulgation of the Amended Marine Living Resources Act means that the small-scale fishing sector is now formally recognised.
This is a critical development to redress the inequality of South Africa’s fisheries governance system.
According to the department, small-scale fishers who use traditional fishing gear have harvested marine resources along the coastline of South Africa for thousands of years for consumptive use, sustaining livelihoods and for medicinal purposes.
However, this particular group of people was not recognised in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act and were further marginalised through commercial fishing rights allocation processes.
In 2007 government was compelled to redress the inequality suffered by the small-scale fishers by means of an order from the Equality Court and this led to the small-scale fisheries policy being finalised in 2012 after an extensive consultative process. The policy’s implementation plan being approved in 2013.
As of February 2014, the communities were asked to register their expression of interest as part of the implementation plan. To date, the department has received EoIs from 270 communities in a process that is expected to touch the lives of 30 000 small-scale fishers from the East to the West Coast.
On Tuesday, Middleton said the registration and verification process started in KwaLanga in the Cape on 30 March.
She said fishers willing to be part of the process must register in their respective fishing communities on the specified visitation dates.
The visitation schedule will be made available in local newspapers, radio, the department’s website and Facebook page. Posters will be put up in the respective communities. – SAnews.gov.za
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