Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Opposition to the Small Scale Fisheries Policy Grows

More than 2000 small scale commercial and traditional line fishers represented by organisations including the South African United Fishers Front (SAUFF), traditional line fishing organisations and the South African Abalone Industry Association are now united in opposition to the draft small scale fisheries policy primarily on the basis that this policy proposes to allocate rights to "communities" instead of individual fishers and the drafting of the small scale policy has to date completely ignored the interests and investments made by the more than 2000 small scale commercial and aritisinal fishers.

Feike has previously pointed out on this blog that by seeking to implement a "community" or co-operative quota system, the draft policy was doomed to fail as "community" quotas are a romantic fallacy of a bygone era and allocation of quotas to co-operatives had repeatedly proved to be a spectacular failure perhaps best highlighted by the South African Commercial Fishermens Corporation (SACFC) and the Kalk Bay Harbour Lights Company.

Opposition to the draft policy by fishers has grown recently after fishers realised that the department of fisheries would be seeking to force small scale fishers to operate in co-operative structures and that the initial statements by departmental officials that right holders in co-operatives would earn more money for their quotas were shown to be false.

Co-operatives cost ordinary fishers a lot more money either through corruption and mismanagement as in the SACFC case or simply because now fishers must pay for the administration of large, corporate structures with board members who expect large fees. There is little doubt that should the department foist the concept of co-operatives on small scale fishers, the only people to benefit will be those that are presently promoting this failed concept.

It is important to note that of the three people at the forefront of lobbying the department and the Minister in support of co-operatives and the draft policy, two were directly involved in previous failed fishing co-operative ventures that denied thousands of fishers access to their quotas and income. The remaining lobbyist, Masifundise Trust (represented by Mr Naseegh Jaffer), is on record in an affidavit to the Cape High Court as stating that fishing co-operatives - large or small - are doomed to fail. One must ask why they now so fervently support fishing co-operatives?

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