Barbara Creecy. Photo: Jabu Kumalo
Inland fisheries have thus far been overlooked despite democratic era reforms. But this is about to change, says Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy.
The approval by Cabinet of the National Freshwater
(Inland) Wild Capture Fisheries Policy for implementation unlocks the potential
of South Africa’s inland fisheries resources to contribute to food security,
job creation and economic development.
At present, South Africa’s inland fisheries are managed
in terms of conservation and biodiversity objectives and are not sufficiently
recognised as a livelihood opportunity, a source of food security, or as a
contributor to the economy.
knowledge relating to traditional and customary fishing culture, gear, and
common pool resource governance is present in some communities, and has been
adapted to modern circumstances, small-scale
fishers have expressed concerns that their fishing rights, traditional and
customary fishing practices, as well as contributions to rural livelihoods are
not recognised by the government and other stakeholders.
Through the policy, the informal and unrecognised activities of small-scale fishers in inland areas are now formalised.
Despite access to other public resources such as
marine fisheries, minerals, water and land have thus far been subjected to
democratic era reform, inland fisheries had been overlooked. The lack of a
national policy had hampered the sustainable utilisation of this natural
resource and growth in the sector.
Because fishing activities are
currently regulated by the provincial departments responsible for environmental
management in terms of their environmental Acts, national and provincial
legislation will be promulgated to provide for permits and authorisations which
may be issued to individuals, legal entities or community groups. Inland
fishing permits and authorisations will continue to be issued in terms of
provincial environmental Acts, ordinances and regulations, while the work
surrounding the inland fisheries legal framework unfolds.
policy adopts the “ecosystem approach to fisheries” which aims to increase the contribution
of fisheries to sustainable development through considering ecological
constraints, such as habitat protection and restoration, pollution reduction
and waste management, sustainable harvesting of fisheries resources.
An efficient regulatory regime for the inland
fisheries sector is created and aligned with the Constitutional approach to
natural resource utilisation, and the importance of the small-scale
fisheries subsector and trade by local communities surrounding inland public
waterbodies is recognised.
small-scale fishers are impoverished and the role of fishing in their
livelihoods is diverse. It ranges from fishing part-time for food to it being a
full-time commercial occupation. Because
the value chains for freshwater fish are short with little value addition, fish
are generally sold fresh informally, or are consumed by the family the same day.
The successful implementation of this policy is an opportunity for socio-economic benefits to reach these
communities. This includes job creation, the improvement of rural livelihoods,
food security, the development of Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMME)
and economic development based on the small-scale and recreational fishing
Besides the need for an integrated
multi-departmental and multi-stakeholder approach to enable the sustainable
development of the inland fisheries sector, the need for transformation and
growth of value chains linked to the inland fisheries sector is addressed
alongside providing the basis for the establishment of dedicated resources and
capacity for the sector.
Anglers can have an impact
The policy goes a step further
by recognising recreational anglers as important stakeholders in South African
inland fisheries and in future fisheries development initiatives. There are an
estimated 1.5 million recreational anglers in the country, which have a
significant economic impact through the tourism sector and related angling
supply value chains.
In terms of the new policy, small-scale
fishers living close to a waterbody of interest will be prioritised for issuing
of permits without unfairly discriminating against other resource-users.
efficient and user-friendly registration and permitting system for all
resource-user categories will be investigated by the Department, in
consultation with the National Treasury. The aim is to develop the most
affordable permitting system and ensure that the permit application fees are
minimal and affordable, with the possibility of exempting certain categories
from paying for fishing permits.
in all spheres of government are to be trained to effectively implement the
measures required to stabilise and grow the sector. Training will also be
provided to ensure efficient enforcement of the policy and meaningful participation
of fishers on the co-management structures.
Barbara Creecy is Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment. Views expressed are her own.