To: Minister of Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries - Mr Senzeni Zokwana

Amend legislation that negatively impacts communities

Fisheries in South Africa are passing through a critical phase of transformation and change. This process has unquestionably resulted in major disruptions to the fishing industry as a result of administrative instability and persistent litigation by the industry. The various attempts to follow the stated aims and guidelines of the Act using the new allocation procedures and structures are unstable, and persistently disrupted by litigation. This is why it is important to amend legislation and policies that undo the aims of the Marine Living Resources Act No. 18 of 1998. These laws, as good intentioned as they are, are failing many small communities through challenges with the administrative processes. These processes should expand on ensuring greater access to the resource by those who have been denied access previously.

Why is this important?

The granting of fishing allocations makes small-scale farming entities and communities susceptible to bullying by established entities. This further perpetuates the poverty cycle with small-scale entities giving in to capital. We need to put in place sustainable models and policies that help small-scale entities thrive. We have seen how entities granted fishing allocations struggle with no guarantee of any form of tenure. This is made evident by the recent case of Buffeljags, on the Western Cape's Overberg coast and many others.

Given the high poverty levels in South Africa, and with the current policies in place, small-scale farming communities will always be on the back foot and capital will always reign supreme. We must go back to the drawing board and rectify policies.

The Buffeljags is a small community who rely on harvesting seaweed to make ends meet. The Department has not renewed their 10-year fishing allocation and this will plunge the community into poverty.

We can't allow a government department to make decisions that negatively impact the poor.

Buffeljags, Barrydale, Overberg District Municipality, Western Cape, South Africa

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