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DAFF: Senzeni Zokwana: Address by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, during the Imbizo on small scale fisheries, Kwasokhulu, Richards Bay, KZN (21/09/2017)

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DAFF: Senzeni Zokwana: Address by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, during the Imbizo on small scale fisheries, Kwasokhulu, Richards Bay, KZN (21/09/2017)

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana

21st September 2017

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Programme Director,
Inkumkani neeNkosi zomhlaba wazo;
Executive Mayor of the District Municipality
Deputy Mayor of the Local Municipality
Council Speaker
Councillors present,
Local fishers
Distinguished guests,

Sanibonani

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We are gathered here today to engage with our most important stakeholders, the fishing community members. We are here to inform you of the progress of our programs and, most importantly, to listen to you and we can together move forward.

Coastal communities have a long history of harvesting marine living resources for various uses including fishing to sell; for their own consumption, bartering and medicinal purposes. Historically many coastal communities have been marginalised and unable to legally access marine resources. These rural coastal communities have remained below the poverty line for years and this has been a concern to me as our people have continued to suffer while living next to the potential source of their livelihood.

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In light of recognizing and celebrating our Heritage Day, I saw it fitting to come and engage with you about our programs and importance of small-scale fisheries and the traditional and customary practise of fishing which has been embedded from generation to generation. The Government through my Department is working tirelessly to legally recognise small-scale fishing communities and ensure that their tradition of fishing and its related economic activities are legally recognised and fully supported by Government.

I noted the seriousness and importance of addressing this issue of communities not having legal access to marine resources for their customary, traditional practices, economic benefit, and food security and I vowed to ensure the implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy is underway.

My Department has responded with the seriousness and pace that these communities deserve. In this regard, I have since ensured that the law has been changed to recognise small-scale fisheries sector. Indeed, the establishment of small-scale fisheries sector is in motion. This has been ignited by the amendment of the Marine Living Resource Act (MLRA) to recognise that there are small-scale fishers in South Africa.

For the first time in South Africa’s history, 316 fishing communities along the coastline of South Africa have been visited and just under 23 000 people registered in these visits from the month of April to August 2016. The purpose of these visits was to register and verify small-scale fisher that will benefit from marine resources through this small-scale fishing sector.

In KwaZulu-Natal, a total of 48 fishing communities expressed their interest in being recognized as Small-Scale Fishing communities.  From the 48 fishing communities in KZN, a total of 4085 individual people were registered and verified against set criteria. Appeals for those who have been provisionally unsuccessful were opened and closed on the 08 August 2017. In ensuring that these villages are kept informed of the process, I instructed the Department to avail officials to go to all these villages and assist people who want to appeal and also give relevant information so that people know about the program of the Department. Indeed, the Departmental staff further visited all the communities for the purpose of assisting people who wished to appeal the initial lists of successful and unsuccessful fishers. Currently, the department is in the process of assessing all the appeals submitted by individuals who have been deemed not to meet the criteria.

Once I have recognised small-scale fishers per small-scale fishing community in KZN, the Department will mobilize the fishers to form one co-operative per community. Fishers will also be assisted with the registration of the co-operatives with CIPC and will be given basic training on the functioning of a co-operative, including roles and responsibilities. This process is envisaged to take place between October 2017 and December 2017.

Registered co-operatives will then be assisted to apply for a small-scale fishing right between January 2018 and March 2018. As part of this process the Department will solicit inputs from the co-operatives regarding the fishing areas and utilization of marine resources. Small-Scale Fishing rights are envisaged to be allocated thereafter and co-operatives would then be able to apply for their respective fishing permits to fish.

Post the allocation of rights the Department will mobilize co-operatives into a co-management structure and will facilitate support programmes for the training and capacitation of the co-operative members.

The purpose of establishing this sector in these rural coastal communities is to:
  Uplift fishing communities by providing appropriate support mechanisms such as education and training; infrastructure and participatory management practices.
  Create a sustainable, equitable, small-scale fishing sector
  promoting interests of women, disabled and child-headed households
  Communities and Government co-manages near-shore marine living resources
  Take fundamental human rights, MLRA principles and international obligations into account
  Secure the well-being and livelihood of small-scale fishing communities
  Maintain the health of marine ecosystems

In the same breath, we cannot run away from the fact that climate change and rampant poaching has affected the marine stock levels. Many people gathered her can attest to the fact that fish is not as abundant as it was before as we see bare rocks that used to be covered by Mussels. I took a decision to ensure that the Branch: Fisheries within my department takes over the responsibility of ensuring fisheries compliance and monitoring in this province. We are tirelessly working to ensure that staff capacity is boosted and visibility is improved to decisively deal with the issue of illegal fishing for the sake of protecting marine resources for small-scale fishing communities.

In trying to address this challenge, the department is looking at Aquaculture as an alternative. Operation Phakisa is the vehicle to fast-track food security and access to Ocean’s Economy for these rural areas. The Department is looking at various Aquaculture projects that will be embedded in such villages and a number of partnerships to this effect are being strengthened.

Obviously, Government will never achieve these tasks alone and we need our traditional leaders to guide us on some of the processes and challenges that we may face moving forward. The importance of Iinkumkani neNkosi  Kwakunye neNkokheli zasekuhlaleni  cannot even be translated into words. In addition to this, cohesion and a unified vision within the villages will take all of us forward to achieving the above-stated objectives of the sector. Therefore Iinvite you to “BE PART OF THE BIG CHANGE” so that we can take the fishing sector of the KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa forward.

I thank you and good afternoon

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