Small-scale fishing plan offers hope
South Africa's small-scale fishing sector could accommodate more fishermen than the country's commercial fishing workforce of about 27 000.
Craig Smith, director of small-scale fishing within the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, said yesterday the small-scale target of 30000 fishermen from 300 coastal communities was designed to revolutionise coastal life.
"This is a big paradigm shift," Smith said in Cape Town. "Internationally there is pressure on South Africa. We are pioneering the way."
He said a small-scale implementation team would begin work once the plan had received a final Presidential seal of approval. However the policy had already been approved, as per the requirements of a 2007 Equality Court ruling which forced government to recognise traditional fishing rights.
The court case was led by traditional fishing leaders for impoverished coastal communities muscled out of the commercial fishing sector. The small-scale policy addresses poverty by giving fishermen a stake in legal fishing co-operatives granted "baskets" of fishing rights depending on geographic location.
One of the architects of the plan, Andy Johnston, said he believed the new policy needed to go beyond fishing and provide much-needed economic development.
Dwindling fish resources mean communities have to create alternative economic options to survive, Johnston said.