Minister Creecy hands over 15 year fishing rights to small-scale fishing co-operatives in KwaZulu-Natal

19 October 2019

The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms. Barbara Creecy, today handed over 15-year fishing rights allocations to seven small-scale fishing co-operatives in KwaZulu-Natal.

Minister Creecy also announced a “basket of species” as well as the rights being granted and support programmes being facilitated by government to assist with the sustainability of the co-operatives allocated with fishing rights.

This provides work opportunities for 500 people.

This follows the department’s amended legislation of 2016 which recognised the importance of small-scale fishers, and launched an Expression of Interest process, where a total of 316 communities from the four coastal provinces registered their interest.

In terms of the Regulations relating to Small-scale fisheries, small-scale fishing co-operatives may apply for any species that are categorised for harvesting in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act regulations.

The application forms were specifically designed for the small-scale fishing co-operatives and departmental officials assisted the co-operatives to apply for fishing rights.

Co-operatives were required to classify as to whether species are requested for food security/own use or for commercial purpose. All species allocated for own use will be accessed by all members for food security whereas species requested for commercial purposes will be owned and controlled by the co-operative for the co-operatives’ business operations. 

The broader agenda was to also promote transformation of the fishing sector.

Speaking at the hand-over ceremony, in Hibberdene,Umzumbe Municipality, Minister Creecy expressed her satisfaction with the allocation of the fishing rights.

“The policy for Small Scale Fisheries Sector is aimed at providing a redress and recognition to the rights of Small Scale Fisher Communities in South Africa that were previously marginalised and discriminated against in terms of racially exclusionary laws and policies. This is a milestone in terms of the transformation of the fisheries sector,” she added.

In South Africa, a small-scale fisheries policy was drafted from 2007, in partnership with communities, civil societies and universities. This was after the Equality Court ordered government to set in place a policy addressing the plight of traditional fishers in South Africa. The policy was finalised and approved in June 2012.

In KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) a total of 53 communities expressed interest, however 48 participated in registration to be recognised as small-scale fishers. In total, 2 184 small-scale fishers were finally recognised in KZN from 36 declared small-scale fishing communities. Subsequently, the declared communities have been assisted to register co-operatives and to further apply for 15-year fishing rights for the first time.

The department conducted two-day compulsory training workshops with the recognized small-scale fisheries of the KZN communities from 05 March to 20 March 2018. These were done to help fishers understand the co-operative model in general, including roles and responsibilities and their rights as members of co-operatives.

The department facilitated the registration of the co-operatives with Company Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) and thirty-six (36) co-operatives from the declared Small-scale communities in KZN. All registered co-operatives were handed over their co-operative registration documents and all the co-operatives were assisted to apply for the fishing rights in 2019.

Some of the most common harvested resources by small scale fishers include fin-fish, mussels, octopus, rock lobster, sand and mud prawns, limpets, crabs, oysters seaweed and abalone.

According to the 2012 report prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Bank and World Fish, about 116 million people are involved in capture fisheries in developing countries, of which 90 percent are small-scale fishers (SSF) and about 50% are made up of workforce of woman. Between 90 and 95 percent of the SSF caches are destined for local human consumption.

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