Can fish­ery plan work?

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Opinion -

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.

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