The South African United Fishers' Front (SAUFF) has called for the immediate postponement of the consultation process on the draft small scale fisheries regulations.
The draft regulations were recently promulgated for a 30-day comment period, which considering the extent of the regulations (57 pages), and the profile of the parties that are directly affected, such an abbreviated comment period is grossly unfair and prejudicial to small-scale fishers.
This is the un-edited version of the SAUFF statement issued on 15 March 2015.
Call for the IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION/POSTPONEMENT of DAFF consultation processes in respect of the Proposed Regulations relating to Small-scale Fishing (Gov Notice No.38536 dated 6 March 2015)
These proposed regulations are clearly intended to legitimize the small scale fisheries implementation plan. For stakeholders to participate in any meaningful way it would be imperative that they (those directly affected by these regulations) completely understand the impact of these regulations. This also implies that stakeholders need to completely understand and interpret the following in order that they may take informed decisions on matters which directly affect their livelihoods:
1. The Small-Scale Fisheries Policy
2. The Small-Scale Fisheries Implementation Plan
3. The Small-Scale Fisheries Implementation Plan roll-out program
4. The Proposed Regulations relating to small-scale fishing
It is clear that points 2-4 above are not understood by the majority of fishers and fishing communities or in certain cases like the Eastern Cape and possibly also Kwazulu-Natal this information has not yet reached many of the remote fishing communities in South Africa.
Embarking on a hastily packaged consultation process, in an environment where there is a clear information and awareness vacuum, carries pre-determined outcomes:
· A complete waste of tax-payers money
· A further waste of tax-payers money when the process MUST be repeated
· Bulldozing through of regulations in an information vacuum created by the authorities
· Complete and utter disrespect by authorities for “prior and informed consent by stakeholders”
Furthermore, as a Nation we have in recent months endorsed (and are signatories to) Continental and International instrument which offers Guiding Principals that focuses extensively on Small-scale fisheries and farming which appears to be almost completely ignored when one determines the course being set by the proposed regulations. Among these instruments are:
· FAO – SSF guidelines (revised 2015)
· FAO – Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure in Land, Forestry and Fisheries in the context of National Food Security.
· AUC – CAADP processes “Pan African Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy Framework and Reform Strategy”
Below are just a few of the disturbing extracts from the proposed regulations:
Cover letter to proposed regulations, para 2
“interested persons are hereby invited to submit substantiated comments or representations regarding the proposed regulations within 30 days of the publication of this Notice”
With less than two weeks notice given to communities all over South Africa it is impossible (given remote areas in the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal) that stakeholders will have adequate time to prepare themselves for these consultations. We have also learnt that subsequent to the Roll-out plan being introduced to fisheries representatives (Rantanga Junction) very few had been able to convene meetings in their respective communities to prepare for the consultation process. It also means that the last “consultation” which takes place on the 23/03/05 in Cape Town City Hall will afford participants only 9 (nine) working days in which to submit “substantiated comments”.
Schedule pg.5 Purpose of regulations 2.(a) & (c)
(a) “ensure equitable access to fish by small-scale fishing communities”
(c) “transform the inequalities of the past fisheries system; and”
Although the regulations speaks to the “demarcation” of certain community fishing boundaries it does not address the challenges of “shared resources” between commercial rights-holders and community allocations which is a guaranteed recipe for conflict in fishing communities. Also notably absent from these regulations, especially with respect to the bold statement to “transform the inequalities of the past” is how these regulations intend addressing the re-allocation of rights from industrial companies to communities. Many of these rights, especially the small pelagics (sardine, anchovy, red-eye etc) which are well within the operational capacity of fishing communities, are critical species in terms of employment opportunities, sustaining local fish markets and most importantly contributing to enhanced food security programs for poverty stricken South Africans.
We have chosen to select just a few of the important challenges in these processes and to bring it to the attention of stakeholders and other interested parties. The SAUFF will submit a comprehensive response to these proposed regulations in due course.
We encourage all stakeholders who may share these views to “reply to all” addressees in order to strengthen the call for a suspension or postponement of the consultation process in order that we can adequately prepare our constituents to respond in a meaningful and fully participatory manner when these consultation processes does unfold in their respective communities.
The “de-commercialization” of certain species in the Eastern Cape will certainly lead to increased forms of poverty as many of these species have, for a number of years, been bartered and traded by local fishers. The trend by DAFF officials to exclude CSO’s from participating on behalf of their constituents is most disturbing and in stark contrast to international guidelines which encourages National Governments to support CSO’s in favour of participatory and inclusive fisheries management practices. This practice is clearly manifested in Interim Relief 9 Dispensation Permit Conditions where under para 15.1 it is stated “The Department will prefer to consult and communicate with the nominated caretaker/representative of the Interim Relief fishing community”. Whilst controversy surrounds the appointed representatives currently claiming they have the support of the communities and in the absence of DAFF TOR’s for such representation (which we have asked for repeatedly over a number of years) CSO’s have a critical advocacy role in favour of fishers and fishing communities.
In the final analysis it would appear that at this juncture of the small-scale fisheries processes, the proposed regulations would rather further disenfranchise fishers and fishing communities and is more tuned into acting as a protection mechanism for the large and industrialized fishing sector.