Can fishery plan work?
The creation of a new small-scale fishery on the face of it gives thousands of fishermen from poor coastal zones access to the sea and the chance to resurrect themselves and their communities.
The fisheries department has identified 10,000 beneficiaries around the country, including 5,300 in the Eastern Cape.
It seems a fantastic vision and members of the EC Khoisan Fishing Association, the co-operative representing people from across the downtrodden northern areas, have voiced their excitement.
But there is a raft of questions, not least about the seaworthiness of the mother ship. Respected non-governmental organisation GroupUp wrote in a lengthy feature last month of huge conflict and a department “hollowed out by corruption”.
Related to this, it will be interesting to see how the department runs with the process it has launched, because much still needs to be done.
Beneficiaries must identify the species they want to target and, after careful consideration, the department must issue quotas for these species, and finally a certificate. At the same time it must help with possible funding for vessels and fishprocessing factories.
Will the department’s small scale fishery drive last beyond the 2019 national election?
Marine resources are under huge pressure. Presumably the new allocations will not simply be added on but will be shaved off those that have been held until now by the big fishing companies.
But this needs to be laid out clearly, as well as how jobs and revenue flow for the national fiscus – that may consequently be lost in the commercial sector – will be trumped by jobs gained by the small-scalers.
As the new entrants claim their marine title deeds and flex their muscles, will the department apply the tough checks necessary to prevent pollution and illegal catches?
And the next question would be whether they have the capacity to do so.