A fisherman off-loads his catch to eager buyers in Cape Town’s Kalk Bay harbour. Picture: REUTERS
A fisherman off-loads his catch to eager buyers in Cape Town’s Kalk Bay harbour. Picture: REUTERS

The government is accelerating efforts to transform the multi-billion-rand fishing sector so it can also benefit small-scale fishermen and black-owned businesses.  

The government is concerned that the sector remains untransformed and dominated by a few companies.

In 2017, SA’s big fishing companies, Sea Harvest and Brimstone, and Old Mutual’s Masisizane Fund all committed to the establishment of a R100m fisheries development fund to assist small-scale players. The oceans economy and the broader agricultural sector presents one of the greatest opportunities to boost SA’s economic growth and create jobs.

Addressing delegates at a stakeholder forum in Cape Town earlier this week, agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister Senzeni Zokwana said his department is finalising the allocation of 15-year fishing rights to 75 registered co-operatives comprised of just more than 5000 small-scale fishers in Eastern Cape; 45 registered co-operatives comprised of 2,184 small-scale fishers in KwaZulu-Natal; and co-operatives that will be made up of more than 2,500 small-scale fishers in Western Cape.

In 2016, then president Jacob Zuma signed into law the Marine Living Resources Amendment Act, which recognises small-scale fishers who have been marginalised in the allocation of fishing rights.

Zokwana said that since the amendment of the act, which formally recognised the previously marginalised small-scale fishers in SA, his department had commenced with a small-scale fisheries programme with the aim of establishing new, small-scale players throughout the coastal communities of SA.

“This initiative has seen more than 10,000 individual traditional fishers being recognised as small-scale fishers for the first time in SA’s history, he said. “Over 200 communities in the four coastal provinces will now be able to access marine resources legally for the purpose of participating in the ocean’s economy and for food security.” 

phakathib@businesslive.co.za