Fishing rights legal framework challenged




African News Agency


MEMBERS of the fishing community and indigenous leaders in the Western Cape are concerned about the Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) and are also calling for a review of the Marine Living Resources Act. Their other concerns are the integration of indigenous rights and knowledge into the FRAP, fisheries processes and looking at a restructuring of the fishing processes within South Africa. Chairperson of the South African United Fishing Front (SAUFF) Pedro Garcia said the purpose of a meeting held yesterday was to see how they could collectively address some of the challenges in the fishing industry from a fisheries, fishing community, fish organisation and indigenous perspective. “First and foremost, we have to look at the small-scale fisheries regulations which emanate from the Marine Living Resources Act in particular. For all intent and purposes it criminalises the vast majority of people who access marine resources for a livelihood. “There is definitely a move towards addressing these challenges in the shortest possible time-frame. They have to be changed and be more inclusive than what they currently are. “It also has to speak to an equitable redistribution of our marine resources. Litigation is certainly not ruled out should we not have more favourable outcomes after exhausting internal processes. “Everything is still in the initial stages, but there is a clear indication that we will be getting the necessary support to push forward for these changes in the industry and to push forward, collectively, in support of setting aside some of these draconian laws and regulations that are currently in place,” he said. Chief executive of Korana Fishing Company John Reed said the fishing industry was of paramount importance for coastal communities. “The fishing industry in the Western Cape represents 80% of the activities in the commercial side of fishing. This is always contemporary. What I can advise is that our small-scale fishers have been left out for a very long time,” Reed said. Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries spokesperson Albi Modise said: “In terms of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy (2012) and the Marine Living Resources Act, small-scale fisheries sector’s objectives are to provide redress to marginalised fishers in fishing communities and to provide developmental support in order for small-scale fishers in fishing communities to participate in the economy of the ocean, contribute to food security and create jobs. “The 2021/22 Fishing Rights Allocation Process was targeting the commercial sector and hence it was not intended for small-scale fishers. The current fishing rights allocation process that is being concluded is the commercial Fishing Rights Allocation Process, commonly known as FRAP.