The small scale fishing communities along the 3 000 kilometre coastal belt of the country had been invited to Parliament to contribute to public hearings on the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill [B30-2013]. The Bill sought to implement recently adopted government policy on small-scale fishers. The Committee continued with the second day of public hearings.
Masifundise, an NGO which had been working with small scale fishers over the last seven to eight years, was generally acknowledged also by other presenters as being a prime mover in the sector. It noted that the SSF policy was generally supported of the communities along the coastline, who had been marginalised by the fishing rights systems of the previous regime. The new policy was to be put into operation by way of this Bill. Masifundise noted that the Bill would also contribute to empowerment of women as it would lend credibility and legitimacy to the roles that they traditionally played in fishing. Representatives from the Eastern Cape noted their appreciation for the fact that the former Minister of Tourism had gathered together communities and had urged them to get themselves organised and detail their grievances. Those SSFs had done so and the government’s response was this public hearing. The SSFs expressed gratitude that the government had been responsive to the public, and urged that the Bill go ahead, incorporating the Small Scale Fishers Policy (SSFP). Support was expressed again for the co-operatives as the most proper vehicle for the prosperity of SFF communities. It was apparent that the fishing public had also been frustrated in the past, by the conservation regulations that had been enacted in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that they lived in, without any consideration for their livelihoods as fishers.
Coastal Links, from various areas, made submissions. It generally supported the Bill and trusted the Committee to hear the will of the people and implement it in the right way. The KwaZulu Natal branch urged that traditional techniques of fishing, through “fish kraals” be promoted, and it was emphasised by this submission and others that SSFs were well aware of and compliant with conservation measures, recognising the value of this to their future livelihood. They urged that proper implementation plans were needed. They were insistent that the past system of subsistence fishing permits, which posed hardships to orphans, widows and the disabled, divided communities, and failed to promote sustainable development and communal participation, must be changed. SSFs generally supported the idea of co-management and believed that a collective structure, which must also involve Amakhosi and the DAFF, would allow for problem-sharing and solving. Inclusion also of the Isimangaliso and other Marine Protected Areas was important.
Other presentations followed, from communities in Paternoster, Langebaan and Doring Bay, as well as Stanford, Buffelsjagbaai, Khayelitsha and Port Noloth. Mrs Nomathemba Sotomela outlined the stance of women fishers, emphasising that they were amongst the most vulnerable and marginalised, whether they depended on their menfolk to do the fishing or did it themselves. A youth movement represented by Mr Gerald Cloete made a submission, and individuals Mr Louw and Mr van der Merwe also put their point of view as individual fishers. These presentations largely repeated the points made by the organisations presenting earlier but also stressed some of the hardships being experienced by the communities, and the way in which the previous dispensations and arrangements had resulted in division of communities. One presenter raised the point that there was nothing for fishers similar to the Road Accident Fund, or Workmens’ Compensation, despite the prevalence of deaths at sea, and they were not properly protected by labour laws; their illiteracy tended to be exploited when they worked for the large fishing groups and they were not covered by any form of workmens compensation when they did not. The SSF sector made the point that they had been waiting for many years to recover their rights, whilst the focus had been on restitution of land, and they were still suffering, particularly because of the entirely seasonal nature of the industry, and their total dependence on external weather factors. Whilst the presenters from Khayelitsha outlined that they had been grateful for support from the Department of Trade and Industry in assisting with boats, in practice they had been unable to fish for months because the vessels were not fit for purpose, were situated far from where they wanted to fish, that they were prevented by lack of jetties from selling to their own communities. The comment was also made that although the communities were not opposed to women being included in the fishing industry, the realities of the vessels was that they were simply not suitable for women, providing them with no toilet facilities. Some of these submissions urged the Committee to beware of those falsely claiming to represent communities, and the Youth Forum was cautioned by Members not to attack the integrity of presenters who had made submissions on the previous day. One submission noted that whilst some of those on the previous day had claimed that there was no need for a SSFP, and others supported it, there was also the third consideration; that 73% of the rights had already been allocated and there would be a need to look sensitively into the allocations, particularly if certain rights were to be reduced. In general, co-ops were supported as the alternatives tried in the past had not proven successful. It was accepted that these amendments would not answer all the concerns but several submissions said that at least they were a start.
Prof Butterworth put the views of the scientists, and said that he was not concerned with the objectives of the Bill, which were sound, but with the possible misinterpretations and therefore suggested a number of amendments. He submitted that his comments were not at variance with the objects of the Bill. Responding to concerns that traditional knowledge was not respected enough in the fisheries area, he outlined that observers were permitted on the scientific committees, but this was later disputed by some other commentators, who said that their experience was that the indigenous knowledge input was actually not taken into account.
Members were distressed to hear of the number of deaths at sea, and the Chairperson asked for a moment’s silence to honour those who had fallen. Responding to one incident related, where South African fishers had been fired upon by Russian and Portuguese large vessels, the Chairperson asked that the Department follow up on the issues. Members noted the need to ensure that freedom of association was recognised, and to ensure that the Bill would pass constitutional muster. However, the point had been made that cooperatives were a traditional African concept. They stressed the importance of this Committee debating words and meanings with great care. The scientists were urged to take indigenous knowledge into account, and asked Prof Butterworth to comment on the balance that was needed between protection of areas and allowing people to make a livelihood. A number of other issues had been raised – such as the need for compensation, processing and infrastructure, the need to investigate the voorskot, fresh produce markets and the whole value chain, as well as how communities within marine or environmental protected areas could be assisted to benefit – but this was actually outside the scope of this Bill. One DA Member asked whether progressive fishing rights would be helpful and get more fish to the sector, and commented that perhaps the Bill was not going far enough, urged the public to fight for what they needed, and wondered if the House of Traditional Leaders needed to be consulted. Another Member stressed the importance of changes by the public for themselves and agreed that this was only the first step to an amendment of the whole Act. She was concerned about the monopolies still existent in the sector. Members pointed out that there need not be fears about cooperatives because Africans had traditionally worked in this way. Poaching was another matter that needed to be addressed.
The Committee also applauded the fact that the SSF sector wanted to increase the importance and roles that were played by women and the youth.
The DAFF response mainly focused on rectifying some of the misconceptions and misrepresentations that had come up throughout the hearings, but said that it was clear that the majority supported the amendments. A brief indication of the implementation plan was given. The DAFF emphasised that it was moving from the role of pure regulator to offering direct assistance with the communities’ sustainable development.
Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill: Public hearings
The Chairperson started the meeting with the apologies from members and the Minister, and added that today was “World Food Day”, so the Minister was attending government’s programme in the North West.
Ms A Steyn (DA) said that she thought it relevant that the theme for 2013 on World Food Day was, ‘Achieving food security in times of crisis’. This discussion that the Committee was having with the public on the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill [B30-2013] (the Bill) was very relevant, and that was why the Committee was trying to ensure that the communities understood what the Committees’ role in that whole process was. She emphasised that this Committee was not only considering the short term effect of the Bill on the fishing communities, but also was thinking about the future generations. She thought that the fishing community was currently facing a crisis. This Committee must ensure that it heard and understood the concerns. It must be vigilant that any policy and legislation would ensure food security for future generations. On this momentous day of World Food Day, the Committee must ensure that people actually had money to be able to buy other food, so they were not limited only to what they could source themselves.
The Chairperson added that 2014 was declared by the African Union (AU) as being the year of agriculture and food security. The incoming Committee would have to deal with those issues as well. He noted that World Food Day posed both challenges and new opportunities for the country to grow more food. He said that in the public hearings the Committee would allow as many people as it could accommodate to make a contribution towards the legislative process. It was indeed a people’s process, to allow the public to voice their views about the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA) shortcomings and the effect of the Bill. He summarised that the Bill was about the implementation of that Small Scale Fisheries (SSF) policy: to cover those SSF people that had not yet been involved in fishing in their communities.
Submission by Nassegh Jaffer, representative of Masifundise
Mr Jaffer said that Masifundise was a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) and had been around in South Africa (SA) since the 1980s, but it had only been since 1999 that the NGO started working in SSF communities. He said the Bill was needed to allocate fishing rights to community based legal entities within small scale fishing communities specifically, but Masifundise was not opposed to the allocation of individual rights to fishing industrialists.
Mr Jaffer said that the MLRA, as it stood previously, with the long term fishing rights policy of 2005, was only really to do with the allocation of fishing rights and nothing else. Masifundise was saying that in SSF communities there was a need to promote integrated development and that included the allocation of fishing rights.
Masifundise noted that there was exploitation in SSF communities, particularly in regard to individual fishing rights that would be issued to a fisher who was poorly literate, poorly numerate and not really a knowledgeable business person, and who could easily be exploited. Masifundise’s key example of that was what was called the ‘voorskot’ system. That system for fishers was akin to the ‘dop’ system was for farmers and their farm workers. It was a means of providing a cash advance to a poor, illiterate and innumerate fisher, with the understanding that once he got his fishing rights and he caught fish, it would belong to the person giving the voorskot. Fishers thus ended up constantly in debt, and a new voorskot simply meant that their fish already belonged to someone else by the time they caught it.
Mr Jaffer said that under the current system, a fisher was only allowed to hold a commercial fishing right in one sector and not in others. The only exception was that if a fisher had a crayfish right, that fisher could also get snoek.
In regard to empowerment of women, Masifundise’s experience was that women did jobs but they were not recognised, those jobs were informal and by-the way. The Bill at least provided that those jobs be mainstream.
One advantage of the Small Scale Fishers (SSF) was that the by-catch was significantly smaller than commercial fishing, said Mr Jaffer. Masifundise said that there had never been any fishing rights allocated to do-operatives (co-ops) previously, as SAFCF was never a co-op. Co-ops enabled communities better access to markets, to run their SSF businesses better. If there were individual fishing rights in 160 communities, it was not possible for government to provide support and training and capacity building to a whole range of individuals, who were then accountable only to themselves, but if they were organized into a collective or a co-op then government would be able to offer capacity-building training for collective entities.
Many communities along the coast had coops. There were committee structures in all of those communities who were working and meeting actively on a daily basis, engaging with officials from Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), local authorities and other active players in those communities. Additionally Masifundise also had four or five workshops per year across the four provinces where it worked, over the last seven to eight years. There had been active attempts to look at SSF in an organised manner. It had three meetings of SSF representatives each year. It was satisfied that what was in the Bill and the SSF policy had in fact resulted from previous discussions, debates and moments where SSF communities had actually expressed what their needs were. That was something that had never happened prior to the public hearing. Whilst Masifundise would never suggest that its voice was the only one, and that others may have differing views, it urged the government to look at what the majority of the SSF communities across the country were saying. Fisher folk who had been denied rights wanted those rights returned. Because of the way they contributed to their communities, it would actually result in benefits to communities, not just individuals.
For this reason Masifundise urged that the Bill be passed by Parliament.
The Chairperson noted that there were translators in the meeting and that simultaneous translation was available. For the benefit of latecomers he reiterated that this meeting was on the MLRA Bill, which would be seeking to implement recently adopted government SSF policy. He said that was a public hearing where communities, NGOs and Community based Organisations (CBOs) were participating in airing their views on that Bill before the Committee for amendment.
Lulamile Ponono, representing the Cebe, Ngungqe and Nxaxo communities from the Eastern Cape
Mr Ponono spoke through an interpreter, whom the Chairperson said summarised the points more briefly, but accurately. He said that the SSF association of the Eastern Cape (EC) applauded the government’s SSF policy as it would give back their dignity to the fishers, so that the harassment they currently faced on their immediate coastlines could stop. What hurt the SSF of the EC in terms of the present MLRA was that there were places like Dwesa and Cwebe, where people who had born and bred in those communities could not partake in fishing previously. It was hoped that the new Bill and SSF policy would enable all SSF the right to partake and fish in their immediate Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The SSF from EC were determined that those people who had denied the SSF their rights to fish in the past would no longer be permitted to do so.
Mr Ponono said that since 2007 the SSF from the four provinces where Masifundise was established had been complaining to Government. The former Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs Mr Van Schalkwyk had called upon representatives of those communities in Port Elizabeth, had asked them to organise themselves and detail their grievances. Those SSFs had done so and the government’s response was this public hearing. The SSF was grateful that the government had been responsive to the public, and the SSFs urged it to go ahead.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Ponono and told him that the Committee had heard and accepted the comments. In regard to the Dwesa and Cwebe issue: the Chairperson reiterated Mr Ponono’s remarks concerning the limitation of fishing to those communities by the old MPA regulations.
Submission by Lindani Ngubane from Coastal Links: KwaZulu Natal
Mr Ngubane thanked the Committee for allowing him to present on behalf of the KwaZulu Natal (KZN) SSF communities, who were using traditional techniques of fishing. He said that it needed to be taken into account that when those SSF communities had voted, they had been voting for a better life and social change. Many of the SSF communities felt that there had been no social change and felt that there was still oppression, similar to that of the apartheid regime. Oppressive laws such as the MLRA needed to be swiftly changed, and his community was happy that the Bill would make changes that would liberate those communities. The KZN SSF was thankful to the Committee and the DAFF for pushing for the amendment of the MLRA Act and the establishment of an SSF policy, which showed the Committees’ commitment to serve and protect the public’s constitutional rights.
The KZN SSF fully supported the amendments being made by the Bill, on the basis that this would close those gaps in the Act. They were particularly anxious that the Bill should accommodate traditional and customary fishing techniques, and if these were included, then they would be happy to support the Bill. Coastal Links KZN believed that proper implementation plans were needed. KZN SSF cautioned, however, that if the Bill excluded the customary fishing rights of KZN SSFs, then it would be unconstitutional and would be open to constitutional challenges.
Mr Ngubane said that the KZN SSF supported the legal entity as envisaged in the amendments, and particularly supported the fact that a specific community may choose to have co-ops, trusts and whatever other legal entity was suitable.
Mr Ngubane said that in Kosi Bay traditional fish traps were used, which were similar to others in the world, and which allowed small fish to grow without being harvested. Fish would enter the traps at high, not low tide. That showed that the traditional techniques were also committed to conserving, managing and controlling the harvesting of the fish along that coastline. The state could not close its eyes to the hardships that communities faced in trying to keep their age old fishing techniques. He asked the Committee to go on an oversight visit. He noted that this type of fish harvesting was not only for subsistence fishing but it also had an impact on the local tourism economy, because tourists came from far to see those “fish kraals”. Hoteliers and lodge owners included visits to the fish kraals as part of their holiday offerings.
Mr Ngubane reminded the Committee that a coastal links presenter from a different region had indicated that there had been people who had been fighting in the SSF struggle who had passed away. SSFs could not allow subsistence fishing permits to be issued again, as they posed hardships to orphans, widows and the disabled. Such permits had divided communities and created high volumes of poverty. They had prohibited the sale of fish. The permits did not include the promotion of sustainable development and communal participation, nor the creation of sustainable employment. There was no empowerment of communities. Finally, the permits had contributed to the impression that DAFF was a failure, and had badly stigmatised this Department. DAFF even had difficulties in finding those fishing communities and disseminating information to them. The subsistence permit system was, overall, a failure.
Mr Ngubane said that the KZN SSF supported co-management and believed that a collective structure, which would also involve Amakhosi (Traditional Leaders) and the DAFF, would solve many matters before they became problems. In such structures, all SSF stakeholders could share problems, ideas, information, and promote and protect their MLR. KZN would appreciated Isimangaliso Marine Protected Area being included in this structure. Sometimes, Isimangaliso did not cooperate as much as the SSF wanted and, additionally, it had actually created some of the difficulties those SSF communities experienced. Mr Ngubane hoped that someday the Minister of DAFF would review some of the regulations around that particular MPA, so that the SSF communities around Isimangaliso could enjoy freedom to harvest in that MPA.
Finally, he said that the KZN SSF community had faith that the Committee knew where it was coming from historically, and was bearing in mind the mandate from the public. Playing political games helped nobody, but making laws that would free them was vital.
Ms Steyn said that the presentations had highlighted the kind of issues that as the Committee needed to grapple with. She said that she understood why the SSF industry needed to move towards a collectivised way of doing things, but she did not believe the co-ops system in SA was well supported. She agreed that the voorskot system was similar to the iniquities in the farming community. However, not everything would be solved in this meeting but it was clear that the Committee needed to look into the system, and pointed out that it was not illiteracy alone that were making the dop and voorkot systems still prevalent.
Ms Steyn also said that the non-existence of fresh produce markets in the country was also limiting individual subsistence farmers in a very similar way as SSF, and she urged small scale farmers, as well as fishers, to come up with proposals. The Committee needed to look at finding markets for those communities, and empower them to negotiate selling prices. Coops and fishing rights could only work if the whole value chain system was put into place, as it was presently problematic. DAFF probably saw coops as an alternative to remedy current problems, but the Bill may not fix all the problems. The SSF community was urged to think about that value chain problem. She felt that the Committee needed also to deal with marine protected areas and how the small communities within those areas could benefit by being allowed to fish or farm within those areas. She questioned why SSF communities should not be allowed to use their traditional techniques within MPAs, when those techniques were part of the country’s heritage.
Mr P Van Dalen (DA) wanted to know what Mr Jaffer understood about progressive fishing rights, and whether he thought that the Bill would result in more fish coming to the SSF sector than the people from the Subsistence and the Interim Relief Rights (IRR) sectors put together. The current Act would not achieve that. If the Bill was passed in its current form, he believed that it might “be letting the DAFF and Parliament off the hook for another five years” but he wanted to hear a response.
Mr van Dalen asked if formation of co-ops would be mandatory, to gain fishing rights, as it sounded to him that they were regarded as both the means and end of everything. He understood that there were some customary and traditional rights that needed to be recognised, but it seemed to him that the DAFF was saying that no fishing rights would be given if there was no coop.
Mr van Dalen asked Mr Ngubane if it was not his intention that that the Bill must go to the House of Traditional Leaders so that those customary rights could be discussed there. This Committee might not be aware of all customary rights that needed recognition.
Mr Van Dalen agreed with an earlier presenter that if there was a MPA, it could not exist in an area where there were already rights in existence, and rights could not simply be abolished. This was a problem in the EC, where communities were saying that they could not get access to the water, as a forest that was a protected area stood between the community and the coast. The Committee must address those issues also.
Mr van Dalen said that the Bill only proposed changes to a small section and wording of the Act, and was meant to give recognition to a particular group of people. However, it likened it to “a sweet wrapper without a sweet inside”. He thought that it might take another five years to get the “sweet in the wrapper”, but urged the public to fight for what it wanted, and not accept second-best.
Ms N Twala (ANC) wanted to raise a point of order. She had understood that the purpose of the hearings was to give the public a chance to voice their belief and opinions on the Bill, and not for Mr van Dalen to instigate and influence the fisher folk through threats and intimidation. The Committee would have its time to deliberate over what the SSF community had said, but for that time, the Committee needed to listen.
The Chairperson asked the public and the Committee whether they understood the point of order and summarised that Ms Twala was saying that the purpose of this hearing was essentially to listen to what the public was saying and to engage on the issues brought up here. Mr Dalen could proceed, as long as he was not trying to turn this session into a debate.
Mr Van Dalen said that he just wanted to say that he wanted to hear the public’s opinion. He did not think that he would still be in Parliament when that Bill would be passed.
Ms M Phaliso (ANC) said that the Committee was there to execute the public’s mandate. The Committee had heard that the SSF communities along the 3000 km coastal belt had been historically disadvantaged and traumatised. The public needed changes that they had made themselves, not changes set by Parliament. Mr Jaffer was very actively involved in convening round tables, one of which she had attended. The access to the coast for SSF communities was being offered now, for the first time. The Committee should ideally be amending the entire MLRA, but time constraints had only allowed Parliament to only amend, now, the small portion of that legislation that would address the needs of the poorest of the poor. This Committee was seeking to influence the first step to transformation, but the Committee needed to be enriched by the public inputs.
Ms Phaliso was pleased to hear the representations from those in KwaZulu Natal (KZN). The public was giving the Committee a direction by saying it wanted structures. Co-ops should not be “a monster to be scared of” or to be intimidated about, because there were support structures in the government for coops – through the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), the Industrial Development Cooperation (IDC) and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA). She understood the public to be saying that the government must not let the DAFF work alone and in silence. Financial support structures for SSF were not on par with Land Bank’s support to commercial farmers but even Land Bank had not helped emerging farmers. The SSF was an old movement, which had been forgotten and left behind, being given nothing on top of the fact that it had had nothing to begin with. Ms Phaliso said that the amendments to the MLR were simply an opportunity to include employment in that Bill, and to that extent it would support transformation and empowerment.
Ms Phaliso pointed out that currently there were monopolies in the fishing industry, and the President had probably moved fisheries to the DAFF because it was a food security sector. If was the marketing sector players who had the boats and factories, and it was also some of the ‘big 5’ fishing companies had established the small companies who were attending to the marketing, meaning that the monopolies remained. The Committee would, as the President wanted, think out of the box, and take it step at a time – although this first step for SSFs would be elephant-sized! and that the President had called upon that Committee to think out of the box and that was exactly what it was going to do it was going to start with baby steps and that first step was going to be an elephant step mark.
Ms N Twala (ANC) asked that the Chairperson guide the meeting with consistency.
Ms Phaliso said that she did not understand the point of order but thought that she was still protected through the Chairperson and that she was not going to be intimidated by anyone.
Ms Steyn also interjected on the point of order. It should not appear that the Committee was fighting in front of the public, and this was a point similar to that raised with Mr van Dalen. The Committee was here to hear the public, and ask questions for clarity. The Chairperson needed to be consistent in how he was allowing Members to speak.
Ms Phaliso reiterated that she did not understand the point of order because she was still speaking from her own experience: She said that it was the Committee’s responsibility to make sure that when it made changes to the MLR Bill these would be coupled with resources. Every speaker had indicated that there was still a vacuum where there were still no financial support institutions for the SFF sector. She had heard many positives and did not understand the negative atmosphere in the meeting.
Mr M Cele (ANC) said that he had been listening attentively and that when it came to co-ops he sensed that were some fears amongst the Committee, although Africans had always, traditionally, cooperated. Individual claims were actually new to South Africa, and emanated from greed. Africans always used to do things as collectives. He did not understand where the problem was now. He thought that civil society needed to re-educate itself and also to reinstate patriotism in order for co-ops to function in the manner they were supposed to. The Committee should not always be blaming the DAFF and saying that it was forcing the SSFs to buy into co-ops, for he did not think that was correct. The people in front of the Committee were thinking adults and if they did not want co-ops, the DAFF could not force them. He urged that amendments were needed in order for the process to move forward as speedily as possible. He would not to see any delay in the amendments being passed, for that would lead to continuation of the public’s suffering.
The Chairperson appreciated the point of Masifundise that RSA was leading the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) guidelines, in the SSFP implementation for next year, and thought DAFF should be congratulated on that. He thought that as the Committee engaged outside of that process, including in the Ad hoc Committee on the 1913 Native Land Act Centenary, it also needed to consider what dispossession meant in terms of fisheries.
The Chairperson noted that poaching had been raised as an additional issue, even though it possibly belonged outside of the currently-unfolding process. It was indeed important and the current exercise should lead to reduction of poaching. The Committee had gone on an oversight visit to Hamburg in 2010, where it had found that where communities were allowed to catch 3 abalone per day, poaching had been curtailed. When 130 communities were forced to wait for 1.5 tonnes of abalone, poaching had come back in force. Perhaps an experimental exercise in limiting abalone harvesting could be done, with proper calculations on the benefits. Communities were, through this public hearing process, being given more power to be able to say how they were to get a better life. The meeting was not about theorising, it was being practical in addressing the point that had been being made by Mr Ngubane that the public wanted, and had voted to get, a better life. Philosophers made the point that people could not eat slogans, but food.
The Chairperson hoped DAFF was listening to the comments on the MPAs, for this had to be addressed, together with the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs (DWEA), in relation to the SSF and traditional and customary fishing rights.
The Chairperson also said that Mr Ngubane had raised a very important point about the implementation plan, which called for Parliament to participate in a process on the regulations. Whilst this process might well yield small results initially, it would have a big impact. The question of whether the Act was being amended piecemeal was not important – the SSFP had to be put up front. Mr Cele correctly summarised that patriotism was required so that those previously disadvantaged could better their lives.
The Chairperson asked the presenters to summarise their responses to the Committee.
Mr Ngubane said that as he was listening he had noted comments in support of the plight of the SSF. He noted, in response to Mr van Dalen’s point on traditional fishing techniques being supported by traditional leaders, that the SSF did have support from their traditional leaders already. Committee Members wanting to visit the KZN SSF communities would need to get endorsement from the traditional leaders. Mr Ngubane himself came to Parliament with a mandate from the chiefs and their respective communities.
Mr Ngubane said that SSF communities already essentially had an identify and it was not necessary to prescribe, as all that communities needed from Parliament and the Bill was the support and legalisation of structures that were already there. Co-ops were there, changing from generation to generation, but recognition was needed.
Mr Ponono reiterated that the EC SSF communities hoped that training on how to manage co-ops would be given, which had not happened in the past. The EC SSFs did not wish to be labelled as failures in their endeavours to establish co-ops and stressed that support was needed, up to a stage where they could manage on their own. His communities were very much in favour of co-management. The age-old excuse that someone was not there when he was needed, because he had to be at the National legislature, would not arise if the co-ops were invested with authority, because all the stakeholders would be reachable, and could not then fail.
Mr Jaffer said that he needed to clarify that when he spoke about the voorskot system he had equated it with the dop system, but it was not the same as loans that co-operatives issued or made. The voorskot system was designed to subjugate and to keep fishers permanently in debt, and to make this worse, it happened informally. He said that there was no governance system wherein a person could be held to account. Masifundise was saying the voorskot system was highly problematic, and urged that legislation be adopted to disallow this system in the case of fisheries. He thought that the Bill was allowing that to happen. On the question of co-ops, he believed that there was a slight tension in how people understood co-ops; they were a commercial mechanism, but Masifundise was saying that they were appropriate for the fisheries sector, should have more responsibility to play additional roles, to enable co-ops to help co-manage and to build capacity within the fishing communities, so that people gained more skills. Women and youth should be brought in, in particular, to play a role in the value chain down the line. Masifundise was suggested a co-op that was almost custom made for the SSF, with additional empowering functions.
Mr Jaffer, responding to Mr Van Dalen’s request that he comment on progressive fishing rights, said maybe he had not been clear – he had actually been referring to progressive fishing policies. Masifundise believed that the SSFP was more progressive, in that it allowed for a whole more than the Interim Relief and the long term fishing policy had. The SSFP was progressive in that it spoke about integrated development, not just about the allocation of commercial fishing rights, which was just one element in the development paradigm. He hoped that the SSFP would give SSFs more fish than they currently got under the Interim Relief, because if not, there was a problem. In discussions between Masifundise and DAFF, it seemed that the SSFP was not just about fishing rights, but that there would be beneficiation down the value chain, which would add to the income of those communities, and which would add to opportunities for women to enter the SSF sector where they were currently not recognised or protected. This was urgent and should not wait for another five years. Masifundise had negotiated and campaigned for that – even to the extent of putting the DAFF under pressure. However, Masifundise and DAFF, he thought, had an understanding. For over ten years, the SSFs had been battling, had been without fishing rights and been hungry and with no income. They could not wait and get hungrier. Interventions were required immediately; they may not be perfect now, but they could improve over time, as was only natural. Government nonetheless must make improvements now, and learn from them as things unfolded. Mr Jaffer indeed agreed that there was a lot more that had to be done in the sector on the existing Bill, and thought DAFF recognised that, but the most important interim step was to alleviate hunger and pass the Bill, to implement the SSFP policy.
Mr Jaffer also said that he thought that it was implicit that with the implementation of the SSFP, there would have to be some kind of realignment and reorganisation of rights and quantum allocations. If that did not happen, then transformation would not happen. Masifundise understood that there was enough available for allocations. The SSF sector was not saying that it wanted everything throughout the sea, but was specifically talking about what was available on the near-shore where they operated. There had to be realignment there. SSFs knew that some current right holders on the near-shore were not using their rights, and these dormant rights could actually provide food and income for the SSFs. SSFs would, he believed, get access to more species, but that access would indeed have to be managed, so that there was no additional pressure on the resources. There had to be regulation, basket sizes, size limits and other things to limit the exploitation of marine living resources. Even with all of those, the SSFs would get a better deal.
Submission for Paternnoster community, by representative Neil Joshua
Mr Joshua said that Paternnoster was a community of 250 fishers, including women and youth of whom about 150 were active and would be included by the SSFP. The Bill was supported by pre-harvest, the post-harvest, the net makers, tackle and bait sellers, and workers and sellers of fish. They were in favour of the communal allocations. He said that Interim Development Quotas (IDQs) had divided their communities because some benefited more than others and fishers who were not registered were branded as poachers. The SSF livelihoods depended on the MLRA Bill being passed sooner rather than later.
Mr Joshua said that when the big companies centralised the fishing business in Cape Town, they left a lot of communities behind without means, and that resulted in a lot of people looking towards the sea to feed their families. It was fortunate that former fish-factory employees remained in Paternoster to pass on their fish processing experience. However, it must be understood that some people in the community were looking to benefit themselves, had already calculated the monetary values and projections in the SSF sector, and were now claiming to be representatives of the SSF community, without any intention to empower them. Loan sharks and marketers were currently exploiting the SSF because they knew their vulnerability of SSF. He thought some might be the middle man for the marketers and cautioned that over the last two years, so many “new faces” claiming to represent SSF had appeared.
Mr Joshua said that he was himself a fisher and he spoke on behalf of his fellow fishers. He found difficult to see how a non-fisher could speak on behalf of fishers, especially if he had not been brought up in a fishing community. SSF wanted to exercise their basic human rights, which were to provide legally for their families, legally, and did not agree that the impression that they were poachers were correct.
Submission from Langebaan Coastal links by Mrs Solene Smith
Ms Smith said that she was a representative from Langebaan. She urged the public to stop implying that all that fishers could do was fish – fishers could and had empowered themselves with the help of groups like Masifundise. She said that Langebaan communities supported the Bill because it would help them achieve what they wanted to achieve, and also wanted to correct a perception that the SSF did not support DAFF – they did. DAFF and dti had already shown willing to respond to SSFs, and were giving far quicker responses, and the Langebaan communities appreciated that. She too cautioned that some people were claiming to represent SSFs when they were actually exploiting them. She believed the co-ops would help.
Ms Smith said that Langebaan was a holiday destination and that when it was established there had been very few white people there, but apartheid had removed the SSF from their places of birth and also took away their fishing rights and barred access to fishing sites.
In the past, fishing communities would self-regulate and, in order to conserve stocks, would designate specific days when people could go fishing. She was glad to say that the SSF of Langebaan were now looking at the MPAs and how they might be used. She had recently attended a round table, and had had to enlighten the researchers about the need to conserve marine living resources and also to protect the livelihoods of SSFs living in the protected areas. Rights holders used to ride over the SSF nets and destroy them. SSFs understood the need to share and conserve resources. In certain MPAs in Langebaan there had been an area that only a few white people were allowed to fish. A further disadvantage was that SSFs could only fish when the weather permitted.
She agreed that the SSFP had been written by SSF communities themselves, but others were trying to take credit. She noted that in Langebaan there were 60 active fishers, including 29 widows and children. Some women did not want to fish, but those who did should be allowed to do so. The community had been pleasantly surprised with the reception from the Mayor. She outlined some of her own experiences as a child growing up on a farm under the hardships of apartheid. Finally, she noted that when meeting one night, and hearing that a particular woman had caught nothing that day, the community spontaneously decided to pool their catches and divide equally, so the arrangements could work.
Submission from Doring Bay Coastal Links by Mr Hahn Goliath
Mr Goliath expressed gratitude to the Committee and DAFF, for the said it had given SSFF in making sure that he and his colleagues were there. He thought that the powerful never listened to the powerless, until the powerless had united. Doring Bay had been in the news recently for “failing” but he was not sure who and what the town had failed. Doring Bay was situated on the Matsikama region, on the northern side of the Western Cape coastline. He was representing the views of all fishers from Doring Bay and the neighbouring very small towns of Paffen Dorp and Ebenezer.
These communities totally supported the amendments, as communities that had drawn up the SSFP for over ten years, and because it would give more meaning to their communities and bring back the dignity of fisher folk. They would allow allocation of rights to a legal communal entity and not to individuals. Doring Bay had first-hand experience of the IDQ systems failures, where Oceana had closed down its operation, after receiving the long term right to create employment, ensure food security and provide income for SSFs to provide for their children. When Oceana closed, the community was left with nothing. A broader system that allowed the community to partake equally would be preferable.
Doring Bay itself was a small fishing village with a population of about 2 000 residents. Most people there were fishers, but any negative comment about Oceana resulted in people being “chased away”, which was definitely not acceptable after 1994. Oceana, as the IDQ holders, had had a monopoly over the fishermen, employing children also from 15 years old. Child labour had been prevalent during those years. When the IRR was made available, twenty fishers were able to have a starting point to determine their own conditions and livelihoods. There had been some difficulties in the collective that meant that the SSFs still remained without real legal benefit. However, they forged ahead, an today there were 101 fisher families as direct beneficiaries within the SSF sector, more children were matriculating and the community itself had managed to better itself. No one had forced co-ops on the community. The community, recognising the shortfalls of boats and equipments, had still not decided for someone else to provide; leaders understood that they had to give direction as to what was the best way forward. Having started, in 2007, to think about the possible different structures, they decided on coops. At that point there were 13 primary co-ops, in Doring Bay and Ebenezer, where the resident fishers at one point had been removed from their estuary to make way for bird watchers. Only in 2011 had Coastal Links Doring Bay started registering their co-ops.
The Doring Bay co-ops were all constituted by fisher folk, because one of the requirements to join was that interim fishing permits were needed, to get only genuine fishers. The deliverables in the co-ops were maybe not what people expected, but the co-ops were successful. One had managed to make R143 587 for the season, amongst ten individuals, as income for their families. Another made R218 000.00 worth of fish for its members – something that individuals could not have achieved. IN 2013, the coops had earned, for their community, R2.4 million. State agencies had assisted. Mr Goliath said he accepted that there would be a lot of noise about the success of the co-ops being likened to South African Commercial Fishing Co-operative (SACFC), but he did not care, as those sentiments came from those who were quibbling about leadership and trying to enter Doring Bay through the back door and exit through the front door.
Finally, Doring Bay supported the amendments because in the past, women were not sent to the sea – he explained that the sea was female, and could get jealous – but also because of the risks to the family should something happen to her. There had not been amenities for women in the 4-metre boats, but the community now was not opposed to women going to sea if they wished, but was also saying that the door was opened for women to add value, take the pressure off their menfolk as sole income-earners, and sustainably contribute to their families. Individuals should not bear the burden of schooling their children, in a community. Structures were needed to empower whole communities.
Ms Phaliso urged that nothing be said about women, without them being involved and deciding for themselves. Women along the coastal belt suffered doubly in comparison to their men folk, and now they could make their mark. The information given was very enriching. She urged the SSFs to look towards their indigenous knowledge, saying that science could be misleading. No information had been furnished on alternative marine species along the coastal belt until the day of the hearings. She noted that environmental awareness and conservation were nothing new to SSF communities. She reiterated most of Mr Joshua’s and Mr Goliath’s sentiments about the sharing of wealth from the SSF sector. She heard the support for the amendments, and the mandate to this Committee to produce a piece of legislation that would guarantee food security to the SSF sector.
Ms Steyn said that it was good for the Committee to hear people speaking from the heart about their issues, so that Parliament could truly understand them, and she appreciated the fact that they had insight that laws might not be perfect, which highlighted the need for consultation with local legislators, from councillors to mayoral office bearers. She recognised that the country’s history resulted in people not yet trusting each other, but it was important to build trust between citizens of different colours, so that they changed the country. She said that South African society could not continue in the manner it had continued up until that point. It was very important that people could have public hearings and speak about troubling issues, which was what was happening today.
Ms Twala noted, with interest, the passion that the presenters had, and the trust they were putting in the Committee to pass those amendments to the MLRA Bill. She said that it was very progressive of Mr Goliath to speak and raise concern over the roles that women played and could play in the SSF sector.
Mr Van Dalen said that the Committee supported the SSFP and felt it very valuable to get the SSF community inputs to ensure that the Bill was what they wanted. He reiterated that the Committee had agreed that the whole Act should be redrawn, not only a small section, and the Committee was apologetic that this was not yet happening. He reiterated Mr Joshua’s sentiments over the need to recognise SSFs as honest hardworking men, and not poachers. He also said SSFs needed to become independent of social grants; the communities needed to be able to work themselves out of poverty, on their own terms. He assured the SSFs of the Committee’s support and commitment to help them change their lives for the better.
Mr Cele thanked the presenters and quoted OR Tambo, who had said that the masses were the key to drive their own destiny and that was what they were doing there.
Submission by Coastal links Buffelsjag Bay through Ms Sarah Niemand.
Ms Niemand said that she represented Buffelsjag Bay, which had a population of only 120 citizens. The fisher folk had sacrificed a lot to come to Parliament on that day. Her community was in support of the amendments to the MLR Bill. She had been a member of Masifundise for over ten years and she just wanted to speak about the mothers in the SSF sector. They played an important role in the SSF sector, in that they were the early risers who assisted the men with preparations before they went out fishing. SSFs were outstanding because they simply used indigenous knowledge and experience to catch fish, without any fish finders and GPS trackers. These indigenous knowledge banks were more valuable to them than any modern gadgets.
She was pleased that the engagements started with DAFF were bearing fruit. She had been upset by one presenter the previous day who said the IRR provided no relief. In fact, it had helped as the SSFs were able to put food on the table, pay their children’s school fees and municipal charges. Community leaders were tested and had to prove themselves repeatedly. After they had consulted with DAFF their allocation had increased from 40 to 80 crayfish per day. That was not entirely satisfying initially, because they also had to use expensive fuel to drive to fishing spots, but had to work around that.
She noted that fisher women were very involved in the SSF process. As soon as they saw the boats coming in from the shore, they would go down to the harbour with their knives and aprons on, because they knew that there was work to be done. When called upon they could work deep into the night. Exploitation sometimes reared its head, but Coastal Links had assisted with putting procedures in place to protect those women. The IRR had been challenging for women, because of lack of amenities for them and their needs on the small boats. She noted the hardships – from first hand experience – when fishermen died at sea, but believed that women could work themselves out of poverty. She pointed out that there was no such thing as a fixed salary; the weather was not always kind, and could bar them from fishing, so women had also started small poultry and gardening projects. Fisher women were also involved in arts and crafts, and accessory design. They may not be well-educated, but they were skilled. Ms Niemand said that Buffelsjag Overstrand should serve as a learning project for other small fishing communities, because they networked and shared information. During the off season, fisher women had initiated other income generating projects such as the fig jam project, and were thankful for the Local Economic Development (LED) programme that was giving leadership to their fishing communities.
Masifundise had consulted the SSF communities extensively on what needed to be included on the SSFP, over the last ten years or so. She had worked with former Minister Van Schalkwyk in Port Elizabeth, and was encouraging all the fisher folk to not lose hope, as that was the driver to achievement. Leaders of communities had to give direction as to the benefits of the SSFP in poverty alleviation. They had been able, with assistance, to unite their communities as they were no longer as divided as before. Other SSFs might be reluctant to register as members of co-ops, but the community leaders had taken that job upon themselves and were there with their people every step of the registration period. Her experience was that leaders had to strive to unite the constituency despite the attitude of individuals. The Overstrand municipality was giving good support through inviting other stakeholders who had offered them training in co-ops management. Co-ops needed to understand the chain of authority. The big players in commercial fishing needed to take the co-ops seriously as players also in the game.
She summarised that the SSF of Buffelsjag were entrusting the Committee and the DAFF with the mandate to amend the MLR Bill in their favour, and thanked Masifundise for the opportunity that it had given her by taking her overseas to SSF conferences..
Submission by Mr Salie Syster, from Small Scale and Traditional Fishers of SA Stanford
Mr Syster thanked the House for the opportunity to talk on behalf of individual fisher folk in his area. He quoted from the Bible to say “Let all the children come to me”.
In Struisbaai and Stanford, for the past eight months, boats were harbour bound and the fisher folk and their children had suffered. The Act had to recognise SSF. Currently, SSFs were only getting the crumbs, but the Bill should enable SSFs to enjoy the cream as well, and it was about time that this happened. He said that South Africa had the most fertile sea in the world, which meant that the country had oceans with an abundance of MRL. The SSFs had been working with the IRR exemption for the past eight years, but this was not enabling them to support themselves and their children properly. The IRR permits allowed them to catch certain fish species, which still left them with not enough catch, and limited what they could provide.
Mr Syster said that the community had lost many friends to Oceana, because even when the fishers paid for their own petrol, they additionally had to pay a levy to use the boats. If the boats capsized, there were no social benefits for the widow and the children. He believed that there should be some insurance scheme for fishers – similar to the Road Accident Fund. People who had lost their loved ones three years ago still had received no compensation.
He was critical of those who had lied at the hearings on the previous day and claimed that the DAFF had done nothing to assist the SSF community.
Mr Syster said that SSFs were currently able to pool together, and even some commercial businesses were looking for stocks from them. They were currently getting between R150 to R180.00 per kilogram of crayfish, but hoped to increase the tariffs. Assistance was being given by DAFF.
The Chairperson reiterated Mr Syster’s biblical sentiments in isiXhosa and said that indeed fishing rights were human rights.
Submission by Mr Sandile Mbali for Coastal links Khayelitsha
Mr Mbali wanted to express his appreciation to Mr Henry Johnson and Mr Jaffer from Masifundise, who had given SSF communities in Khayelitsha direction as to how and where to go for support in establishing and making a success of SSF. He said that Khayelitsha encompassed Gugulethu, Phillipi and Delft townships, because SSF along the Khayelitsha coast came from those areas.
Mr Mbali said that prior to Masifundise becoming involved, there were no permits for the SSF community at Khayelitsha; SSFs used to go out to sea for a whole month doing deep sea fishing and came back with very measly wages from all that effort. Masifundise had enlightened SSFs to the issues and helped the fishers address them. Masifundise’s intervention had played a big role in uplifting the SSF of Khayelitsha, and helped the community to get eight IRR permits. It was also through Masifundise’s advice that women were also taken to sea, and about 40 women amongst the SSF folk of Khayelitsha had permits; although it wanted more, the community was limited by the cap on permits.
Mr Mbali was very grateful for the SSFP, which was sorely needed by the SSFs. Although there were still many poverty stricken widows they were still thankful for the fruits of their long journey to the SSFP. He related a story of how a fellow fisher had died in front of him, and he was unable to help, as he could not swim. He urged that the Bill’s amendment also look to helping widows and their families.
Mr Mbali said that he was not educated but that he had 45 years worth of sea experience, as he had started very young along the Namibian coastline with his father. The SSFP would give hope to children as the time was now here to participate. The SSFs had watched formerly dispossessed farmers being given land and machinery to farm and had ask themselves when their turn would come as fisher folk, so that they could also feel valued and dignified in their profession.
Mr Mbali said the community was additionally grateful to both the DAFF and dti for their support and the provision of vessels, but he lamented the fact that those vessels were not of good quality. They were not currently seaworthy, which was why they had not been used since May. The other issue with those boats was that levies of R1 500.00 per month were payable. The SSFs of Khayelitsha could not afford that as they were generating no income, and they were also losing money to SARS monthly because they had registered their co-op.
Mr Mbali commented that the problem with the vessels was that dti had allocated R350 000.00 for 10 individuals in a co-op, but the boat-builder had produced flimsy vessels and placed them in a different location from where the community had asked it to be. Other co-ops had their crafts built where they wanted to fish. Dti had also provided the community with an unregistered trailer. He asked that DAFF look into that situation.
Another problem was that dti had told the community that there was R140 000 surplus from the SSF Khayelitsha allocation. When they sought access to that funding, they were referred from Pretoria to Cape Town offices, without success. Because the trailer was unlicensed and the boats not operative, Khayelitsha fishers had to resort to lending out their permits to marketers, who then took a chunk of his allocation, and he calculated that he was paying about R8 000 in levies for a boat procured by dti which turned out to be flimsy. However, he did note the positive of dti offering training through the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), on how to operate the boats, and how to use modern technology to fish without having to pay levies to middleman. This still did not help when the boat was useless, rusting in the harbour.
Mr Mbali said that the Khayelitsha SSFs agreed with co-management. However, the zoning of fishing areas would be problematic. Crayfish were found in one area. However, other fish were mobile. The SSFP had to address that and he was pleading that the SSFs still be allowed to pursue fish in their boats. He pleaded that the Bill could still invite conflict, because of the Marine Protected Areas.
Mr Mbali wanted to touch on an argument raised on the previous day, asking where the extra fish for everyone would come from. This question should surely be asked of the poachers, who were hauling fish in night and day. The SSFs were not taking out the quantities that the poachers were. Fish was a natural resource and the sea would give its bounty when it wanted. SSFs were also well aware of the dangers of pollution.
Finally, Mr Mbali asked that government help with the Monwabisi Beach, which was an entertainment area but would benefit from the building of jetties so that the Khayelitsha SSF could also go in with their boats and sell their fish directly to the residents of Khayelitsha.
Mr Mbali concluded that women in the SSF sector had to be empowered and not to be undermined, reminding the meting that women in the military carried the same guns as their men counterparts and contributed equally.
At the start of the afternoon session, the Chairperson commented that one issue that was consistently raised was the death of fisher folk at sea. The Fishing National Development Forum, on the previous day, showed images of fellow fishers honouring their drowned colleagues, but there was no recourse for those who remained behind. Lists of those who had drowned were read out; he thought that the hearing should have observed a moment of silence for them. One death of a SSF was one too many. This was not something dealt with in the current Bill, but it was something that was prevalent. He was disturbed by the acceptance that so many women in fishing communities would be widowed. He alluded to the suggestion of the Sea Accident Fund, and said that at some point somebody would have to take responsibility for deaths at sea. The Committee had, at one stage, dealt with a matter that had resulted in only R50 000 being paid out in compensation. This was something that DAFF would have to look into seriously, and come back to the Committee with suggestions. It could not simply replace one fisherman with another as human lives were worth far more than profit and loss margins. He asked that the meeting rise now, to honour and remember those who had died at sea.
Ms M Pilusa-Mosoane (ANC) commented that all presenters seemed to be appreciative of the proposed amendments and the Committee would do what they required. In response to the deaths at sea, she believed that DAFF should not be working alone, but departments clustering together may well be able to address the issues better. She pointed out that this Parliament’s term was coming to an end but hoped that the incoming Committee would be able to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion.
Ms Twala hoped that DAFF and dti would take note of the concerns about the boats and trailer.
Mr van Dalen agreed. He added that the dti was looking for a slipway site for the boats along the coastline near Khayelitsha.
Submission by Mr Dawie Phillips from Coastal links Port Noloth (Northern Cape)
Mr Phillips greeted the gathering in Nama, but spoke in Afrikaans, noting that there were translators present. He noted that the Port Noloth community had a long expanse of coastline, at least 330 km, but because the SSFs had no access to about 260 km where diamond mining was ongoing, they had to use all manner of complicated methods to fish. The community was using a mother boat with other smaller craft. It was difficult to fish in that manner as the permits restricted each craft to one species.
Mr Phillips said that the amendments proposed would help the community to gain legitimate use of the sea, as their rights would be recognised for the first time. For the SSF of Port Noloth, the previous arrangements had been little better than apartheid and had disempowered them in the same way. He had now heard arguments for and against the Bill during these two days. He could well understand that some interest groups were against the amendments, because they were assets unto their own sector. If SSFs were not given autonomy and independence they had little choice than to become assets to the big fishing companies who could employ and exploit them, and that had to stop. Port Noloth SSFs saw the Bill as empowering them to own their own boats, to have their own processing plants and to trade on their own behalf, both domestically and abroad. He said that co-ops, formal and informal, were not new to the community, whose whole way of life was essentially a co-op of mutual assistance essentially, because when someone had plenty they shared with those that had nothing.
Mr Phillips said that he hoped that when the amendments were passed they would give SSF communities access to capital, which would enable them to improve their way of life sustainably for their forthcoming generations, along with improving their business management skills which, in turn, would lead to better communities. The process and procedure of the SSFP had been inclusive up to now, and Mr Phillips was grateful for that. Without being seen as currying favour, he wanted to express gratitude for what the DAFF had done. There may well be some problems, but it must be remembered that all babies had to crawl before they could walk. The Port Noloth SSF was confident that that process of passing the MRLA had been set in motion and that they were winning the fight.
Submission by Mr Maxwell Moss Small Scale Fishers Activist
Mr Moss said that he wanted to acknowledge Mr Jaffer for what he had done for Masifundise. He had met Mr Jaffer in 1982, when they were together producing pamphlets and newsletters for the grassroots fishers. As children growing up in apartheid times, they had been taught to help their communities. He noted that his presentation would be a little different from his written version, as he was being assisted in making it. He said that whilst he had wanted to stand and honour those who had died, his physical disability prevented him from doing this.
Mr Moss confirmed that access to the sea had been an issue for many years and he recalled, as a child, a confrontation between a police inspector waiting to arrest someone on a boat for pass laws, and whether the fisherman had jumped or fallen off, he had drowned that day when trying to run away from a system that was denying him rights. He quipped that when West Coast fishers first used to present their problems to the offices of the DAFF, the door of the official used to be dubbed “The squatter camp of DAFF” but he was pleased to see that the official, Mr Desmond Stevens, was now Deputy Director General heading the fisheries unit, as he was well aware of how difficult it had been for the SSFs. He could, however, say with some pride that the DAFF had offered and should continue with their help to SSFs. When the SSF received their fishing rights, big fishing companies with their lawyers would try to usurp those rights, to take the larger part of them. He urged that scientists should not be allowed to dictate to the SSF when, where and how many fish were in the sea.
Mr Moss also lamented the non-existence of job security for SSFs. He added that when people died on the mines, those deaths were publicised and there was public sympathy, but the same did not happen for the fisher folk. He believed it was unconstitutional for the DAFF to do nothing for those that remained behind when their fisher provider had died at sea. He asked why fishers who worked for I&J and Sea Harvest should be covered by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases legislation, whilst those SSFs working for themselves should not – the value of their lives was equal.
Mr Moss questioned the legitimacy of the levy, making the point that fishermen were not out at sea for entertainment purposes, but they were hard at work. Mr Moss said there was a general consensus that domestic and farm workers were the most exploited, but he was of a different opinion and urged the Committee to visit fishing communities to see the exploitation there too. He urged that DAFF continue to fight against their exploitation by the large fishing companies, who did not honour their promises, but SSFs were unable to pay for legal representation to pursue their claims.
Submission by Mrs Nomathemba Sotomela
Mrs Sotomela said that it should be remembered that SSF women were the most deprived. Their husbands were hugely exploited by the big fishing companies. After working for a full day, they might return with a measly R50 for all their efforts to provide for their families, and be “compensated” with wine to drink to forget that they had been exploited. The large companies would prey on their illiteracy, claim they had not caught enough and they were unable to argue for the true value of the fish.
She asked that Parliament should also deal with the real representatives of the SSF community and not charlatans. She said that when permits were issued, Hout Bay women had applied, and had received the permits despite knowing nothing about the sea. Older men here could attest to the fact that she had learned to fish during the time that contracts were running up to Luderitz, and during the slow season, those big companies had paid R175 per month to the SSFs. The only people who had prospered from the fishing industry were the Portuguese who were refugees from both Angola and Mozambique. Genuine SSFs had been injured, some were wheelchair-bound, others suffered strokes, many had drowned, but all genuine SSFs shared a common suffering that they had never been recognised as legitimate fisher folk. She was asking that the SSFs be taken seriously and that they must be affiliated to the worker unions as well.
She said that a visit to Hout Bay Harbour would clearly show up the hardships of the casual SSFs who did not even know what a permit was; they would come all the way from Khayelitsha and Langa just to be exploited by those who knew better. The current Act was creating a problem. SSFs must be protected, as they were currently regarded as the most unvalued contributors to the South African economy. She urged that the Committee, when considering the SSFP, should do oversight visits and satisfy itself that the SSFP was understood and supported by the real SSF communities, not the false representatives. She reiterated that she really wanted the Committee to visit the Hout Bay harbour, because those who were prospering there were people who had not immersed themselves in the challenges of being a SSF.
Mrs Sotomela said that women were not being superior and demanding, but two women in her community – herself and Mrs Mngomezulu – had applied for, and received IRR permits and went out on a boat with the basic amenities, and that was the type of vessel they would be happy to receive from government. She did not support the myth that women could not take care of themselves, because they were very capable. She pleaded that the amendments be passed, to allow every woman to provide for her children, and that SSFs be allowed to partake in the freedom and benefits of democracy, without a bias in beneficiation.
Submission by Mr Clifford Gordon Louw
Mr Louw said that colour should be immaterial in South Africa today, but in Hout Bay the experiences were different. He said that he had been a SSF for 54 years, and had a socialist, not capitalist stance. He believed that if SSF communities along Hout Bay and False Bay were left to manage fish stocks, they would be able to work out a just and equitable system on how to share.
Mr Louw had participated in both the IQR and IRR systems and neither had not worked out for a lot of people. Fishing was a seasonal trade and he urged that trust funds should be set up, where people could deposit their earnings during the good season, to carry them through the slow season.
He had noticed the setting up of factories, but said that the difficulty remained that those who already had money would be likely to profit more, and if no new opportunities were created for SSFs, that led to the vicious cycle of subjugation of SSF.
Ms Steyn asked Mr Moss whether it was fair to not take scientific information into consideration. She fully accepted that indigenous knowledge was valuable, but, as Ms Niemand had noted, modern times had come, and she believed that what was found with technology should have a bearing as well
Mr Moss replied that there were many fishermen in the house that were witnesses to what he was about to say. In 2008, scientists had claimed that in Elands Bay there were no crayfish. Three days later, millions of crayfish crawled out from the sea. He was not saying that scientific knowledge was not trustworthy, but that it should be tempered with indigenous knowledge.
Mr B Bhanga (COPE) said that he understood that the public was excited about the amendments, but asked what they would see as the practical implications.
Mr Moss replied that when working with the SSFP, questions were raised on whether it would be practical across the entire coastal expanse. Most of the provisions would work, although some needed to be re-worked. Mr Moss said that Mr Jaffer could also elaborate more but there was confidence that the SSFP had deliverables.
Mr van Dalen said that Mr Bhanga had just raised an important issue. The SSFP was a policy, not a law. Parliament had to change the legislation to accommodate the policy. The question was why the SSFP was not being made into a Bill; policy could easily be changed.
Ms Phaliso said that the SSFP did not just materialise from nowhere. The Act had already been in existence. She would have likely to see the whole Act change, because it had not been conducive to transformation. The SSF communities embarked on a journey to create something that could accommodate them, so that they could also be empowered. The Committee could not now be talking of changing a policy into a Bill – the reality was that there was no time to complete this task. Stakeholders were urging that the process begin from the start, and changes were being proposed in this way to meet the needs of those people who had, themselves, come up with the SSFP. This had come to DAFF because of pressure from SSF communities. She thought, from these submissions, that the Committee was on track, and SSFs needed this Committee to at least start the process.
Ms Steyn said that she had just been reminded that all political parties had supported land reform and there had been an Act put in place, but somewhere down the line it was happening that land transfers were not accompanied by land titles. This had never come back to the portfolio committees; the policy had changed and people were thereafter told of the changes. She thought it important to stress that if the law did not state something specifically, policy direction could still change. She was not inviting a discussion on the point now, but she wanted the stakeholders that were present at the hearing to appreciate that point, and said that their excitement about the changes should come with full awareness of the implications.
The Chairperson said that the Committee was now going into the content of the Bill in the course of a public hearing. The Committee knew that the Bill gave effect to policies. It was not possible simply to convert a policy into a piece of legislation and he pleaded with the Committee to stay on track and respond to the submissions, not debate the issues at this point.
The Chairperson noted that amongst other issues that had been raised were trust funds, safety for SSFs and support from dti for proper vessels, which were outside the current legislation. He said it did often happen, when people were not involved in creating the law themselves, that issues outside of the Bill might be raised; these might be very relevant, but they did not pertain exactly to the legislation before the Committee.
Mr Bhanga said that he agreed with the Chairperson that the people that were causing confusion were the Committee members themselves, who were politicising the issues. He regarded it as his responsibility to listen. That was why he had asked specifically what difference the SSFP and the Bill would make. Mr De Beer, his colleague, had explained that the whole issue around the amendments and the policy was also about giving relief on allowable catches, on which the SSF were dependent. He would not support anything that would not relieve the real problems that the stakeholders had raised, so his question would assist the Committee in making decisions. He had merely wanted to know about the practicality of the relief that the Bill sought to offer. He reminded the Chairperson that he had the right to stop irrelevant discussions.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Bhanga for also restraining himself from politicising as well.
Submission by Youth Group of small scale fishers, through Gerald Cloete
Mr Cloete said that he was getting agitated because members from his organisation were being arrested for public violence, whilst the stakeholders at the public hearing were tip-toeing around issues that the Committee should, as ordinary people, understand also. The amendments in the Bill would ensure that SSFs were recognised, and would be able to participate, along with the big fishing companies, on decisions about how the fish “cake” was to be shared. That was the most important part of the amendments. SSF communities had to be able to say to DAFF that they needed a right to go to sea.
Mr Cloete was further agitated by those false representatives who represented only their own interests at the hearings. One representative had said that he was representing the “legal fishers” of SA, thereby implying that SSFs were illegal. They were only “illegal” in the sense that they were not recognised in any state legislation. The amendments were akin to giving the SSF identity documents to go and vote. He said nobody should under-estimate the importance of the amendments being made by way of this Bill.
Mr Cloete said that his agitation was hindering him from presenting his submission. The very same false representative of big fishing business was in conflict with Mr Cloete’s own people at Steenbergs Cove. They were getting arrested for public violence because they were protesting that they needed housing.
Mr Cloete said that the SSF backlog was huge. Mr Moola was representing the Stefan Brothers’ company that had as large a share as 56 tonnes of west coast rock lobster. In addition to that, this company had a right to fish and it also owned most of the communal coastal property, allocated by the Queen from the days of the Union of South Africa. The company was selling off property to developers for the construction of holiday homes, whilst the West Coast SSF were struggling to get access to the sea and to access state housing. Mr Moola was a practising attorney providing services to the fishing industry in general. The Committee must be aware that there were many bona fide SSFs also who had made representations to the Committee.
The Youth Group was distressed that the Committee programme provided 30 minutes for Mr Moola to speak, whilst other individuals and representative organisations such as the Youth Group and Cosatu had been restricted to 15 minutes.
The Chairperson asked if Mr Cloete could please stick to the issues he wanted to present.
Mr Cloete responded that the Youth Group was simply respectfully questioning the time allocated to the speaker, and said that speakers should perhaps be asked to provide signed mandates.
Ms Steyn interjected at that point that she was very concerned about the tone of Mr Cloete’s presentation. Whilst she wanted everyone to be heard, she was concerned that this submission was questioning the integrity of an individual appearing before the Committee on the previous day. Ms Steyn repeated that anyone was free to come before the Committee during public hearings, but presenters should confine themselves to fishing rights, not attacks on the personal integrity of others. She asked that the Chairperson make a ruling, as she was very concerned.
The Chairperson said that it was everyone’s right to come before that Committee, either to represent his own views or those of others. He had asked presenters to stick to the issues to keep the hearings moving along. Issue relevant to the Bill itself and to the Committee could be raised.
Mr Cloete said that it went without saying that all those that had been making submissions should have had clear mandates, and if there were any who were falsely claiming mandates, that would be a problem.
Mr Cloete proceeded to simply read through the attached submission.
Submission by Helderberg Artisanal Fisheries through Andries van der Merwe
Mr van der Merwe said that ideally, these amendments should have been brought two years ago, which was the time that the stakeholders reached consensus, but he noted that there was still general agreement. However, he was concerned that he was the only white fisherman at today’s hearing, which seemed wrong.
Mr Van der Merwe said that Helderberg communities had been struggling with the fishing rights issues from 1993, and even from ten years before that, and had even been arrested a few times. Helderberg had been present when the current legislation was passed, but this Bill included many things that fishermen believed had to be rectified.
One issue that bothered Mr van der Merwe was how the DAFF had labelled the SSF. In his experience, if a person was not a fisher, he would not be paid. SSFs were variously called subsistence, small scale, limited, near shore, offshore, commercial and full commercial fishers, but all those categories would fall under the same sector. In 2000, those who had influence in the fishing industry decided to divide fishing communities by instituting the application of long term fishing rights, which meant that licences were given to the white boat owners, whilst those black fishers with boats could not get fishing licences, and subsequently were called “traditional line fishers”. That had broken the fishing communities apart. The licence holders had access to 500 kilograms of near shore rock lobster, but those who had no long term fishing rights remained with nothing. That brought families into conflict over rights holding.
Mr van der Merwe said that he had been buying fishing rights from times prior to the new dispensation. Logically, because he was white, he was supposed to have received a fishing right without purchase. When the new dispensation came in, he had had to buy them again. This happened again in 2000. The artisanal fishers they did have money for legal counsel to fight the injustices of having rights taken away and returned, and all the people who had been involved in the awarding of rights were currently private expert consultants in the fishing industry.
All those that were opposed to the adoption of the amendments were in actual fact against communal fishing rights, whereas in fact fishing had been a communal trade before the MLR Bill. It had been known since IRR although it was not legally recognised. Things had changed at Helderberg in 2012 when individuals no longer wanted to be part of communal fishing trust.
He said he had also heard the story about the South African Commercial Fishing Co-operative (SACFC) and co-ops never had such power, might, or even such rights then. SACFC had been a company that was run by lawyers, never a co-op. Co-ops, back then, never had any access to decision making because of the share dilution structure. The new co-ops would be vastly different.
Mr Van der Merwe said that SSFs were fisher folk, knew the sea, and knew how to sell their fish, but the conservation scientists’ knowledge about when and where fish could be found was flawed. He invited scientists to consult fishermen when they were doing their conservation work. He thought that Ms Steyn’s observation about Mr Moss’s assertion was skewed; all that SSFs were saying were that they should equally be consulted. He urged DAFF to listen to the SSFs and investigate carefully what the scientists were saying. In 2000 the line fish committee scientists had said that there were 93 tonnes of line fish left for breeding in the ocean. In the December /January season of 2000/1, fishers had caught 99 and 120 tonnes of Cape salmon respectively. SSFs should be represented on the scientific committees. They had thorough knowledge of the fish stocks.
Mr van der Merwe suggested that the traditional line fish and near shore rock lobster sectors be done away with, because those categories resulted in unequal allocation allowances when SSFs were using similar methods, and resulted in the divisions in the fishing sector. He suggested that it would be useful to revert to the 2000 legislation.
The Chairperson noted that this point that the Committee programme allowed for responses by the DAFF for the following Tuesday. This had been put in, in anticipation that there might not be enough time to finish on that day. However, DAFF had indicated that it could give responses during the hearing, and the Committee would thus proceed with discussions on the following Tuesday.
Ms Phaliso asked whether the responses from DAFF were meant for all the stakeholders at the hearing or for the Committee. Some stakeholders were from other provinces. It was important for them to see interaction and know the responses.
The Chairperson responded that although the session was for participation between the DAFF and the Committee, the stakeholders would be allowed to listen.
Submission from Professor Doug E. Butterworth, University of Cape Town
Professor Butterworth said that his concern with the Bill lay not with the objectives themselves, but the possible misinterpretations that possibly could occur later. He did not believe that his comments were at variance with the intention of the Bill. He read out his submission in full (see attached document).
Prof. Butterworth wanted to speak to what Mr Moss had said. Any fisheries scientist worth his salt must know that he was dealing with an inexact science and could not pretend to know everything. In that sense, scientists did need to consider information from the fishers. Some of the SSFs present today might remember a meeting held at the old Sea Point Aquarium some years back, to address the question of the West Coast rock lobster. The conclusion was that there was nothing more that could be done than was already being doing to calculate proper catch limits. There was room for interaction and consultation, but it was accepted there that the scientists were using the right methods. The essence of Mr Moss’s statements was “Be careful about listening to scientists only”. However, he asked why Mr Moss believed this was the correct position: the USA had recently put in legislation that the recommendations of scientists could not be overridden even by the equivalent of the Minister. He noted that a seminar would be held on that the following week and invited those interested to attend.
Submission by Overstrand Small Scale Fishers Forum through Mr Hendrick Latola
Mr Latola said that his presentation would be brief as he thought that the submissions throughout the hearings had covered his organisation’s stance as well. He noted that it was in one sense awkward that this Bill was being brought during the election period, but reminded the Committee that, globally, government would be measured on its service delivery record and the way it applied the people’s mandate. If an amendment to the Act meant that the ruling party would be scoring political points, then so be it, but it must be remembered that actually the SSFs matters were not political, but a question of livelihoods.
He thought that the Committee would have to deal with three extremes. On the previous day, Mr Moola had stopped just short of telling the Committee that there was no need for the SSFP. The Committee also had to listen to what the SSFs were saying; that there was indeed a need to adopt the Bill to give effect to the policy. There was also a third extreme; of the 10% SSF rights allocation, 73% of that had already been allocated. The SSF communities felt that the real rights given to their sector were non-existent, and that was supported by the recent Equality Court case judgement, where the judge had been very clear in his findings.
These hearings, for Mr Latola, brought forth a memory of a very profound document, that said that the people should share in the wealth of the country – what was so profound about the Freedom Charter was not so much the ideals and the vision it contained, but the manner derivative to the final analysis and conclusion of its objects. The SSF community was aiming, by supporting the amendments, to see the SSFP put into operation.
The struggle as SSF communities started in the 1950s, when fisher folk had been removed from living close to the sea shore , and their fishing rights were allocated to a few individuals and big fishing companies, and since then the fisher folk had been increasingly suppressed from participating in that sector. That was why they found it difficult to accept that they should wait to see the situation reversed. He was disappointed by questions such as “where will the fish come from?” because no one would deny that SSF were also conservationists. The sea was their livelihood; they had no wish to exploit its resources, which was why they accepted that an additional 300 other SSFs should be put on a waiting list for permits. They had also agreed to cut down, by 30 kilograms, on their catch limits, because the individual interests were not as important as the concept that communities move forward
Mr Latola was concerned at the criticisms towards co-ops because the alternatives of a company, industrial opportunities, and individual rights had almost collapsed the abalone sector.
Mr Latola then related the story of Hout Bay Fishing (HBF), probably the biggest poaching scandal in the world. HBF had essentially been given a “slap on the wrist” when charged in South Africa. However, the US government had pursued the matter, and management of HBF, when prosecuted in the USA, got a fine of US $13.3 Million and a civil suit was won by the people of South Africa ordering HBF to pay $29 million in compensation. This should be seen against questions of where the money to enact the legislation should come.
His constituency took ownership of, and supported, all the amendments. It was a pity that not all those who had started the struggle had lived to see it come to fruition. The amendments were supported because they would better their lives.
Mr Latola wanted to explain why there had traditionally been concerns about women being involved and said it was a challenge for him to dissuade his own wife from going to sea, because she loved it. However, the SSF were concerned that their boats were not equipped with the proper amenities for people of different genders to relieve themselves. Some women would be sick for up to 12 hours at sea.
The SSFs were not bargaining in quite the same way as they had in 1994. They were asking for the bare minimum – they could not ask their hungry children to wait for food, but should be able to provide it immediately. It was not asking that everything be addressed immediately. Sleepless nights had gone into the negotiations and drafting of the SSFP. Open access was the first imperative and the SSFP must be inclusive of social conditions. Only after the proposals were agreed upon were they forwarded to Parliament and now the SSF community would entrust the Committee to carry that policy forward to ensure that SSFs would live better lives.
United Fishing Front submission, by Mr Johannes Claassen
The Chairperson allowed Mr Johannes Claassen of South African United Fishing Front to speak. Mr Claassen said that he had spoken previously, and was not seeking attention but when the meeting was honouring those who lost their lives at sea, he had a painful reminder of an incident witnessed when 28 SSF comrades were lost during a shooting by Portuguese and Russian fishermen, of SSFs who were “daring” to fish in the same waters. Their large boats were liable to simply drive over the smaller ones.
The Chairperson requested that the DAFF branch dealing with security should follow up on the issues raised, which were indicative of severe trauma.
Mr van Dalen asked if SFFs were included in any scientific working groups, either as elected representatives or as contributors. He urged that, given Mr Latola’s assertion that co-ops were the only way in which the SSFP would work, the Committee must make sure that the Bill would pass constitutional muster. People did have freedom of association, but if this was not recognised, it would be impossible to force people to be a part of something they did not want. The Committee would have to deliberate carefully on that issue.
Ms Steyn wanted to know if Prof. Butterworth had made inputs into the amendments via the DAFF, before the hearings. Ms Steyn wanted to clarify, for the people present today, that the Committee had long deliberations over wording, because seemingly unimportant words and punctuation could be misinterpreted, and small things could change the meaning of whole clauses.
Ms Phaliso said that the hearings were dealing with historical matters, and there was bound to be some disagreement. South Africa was a developing state and indigenous knowledge needed to be acknowledged, She did attend scientific platforms, and from time to time those with huge indigenous knowledge had been in attendance, but not given the opportunity to speak. She urged Prof. Butterworth and other scientists to take account of indigenous knowledge in their final analyses, not least because they had not previously been taken into consideration. Ms Phaliso commented that sometimes the youth organisations might adopt a more radical stance, but she had no problems with Mr Cloete’s presentation as it was his democratic right to speak.
Mr Bhanga directed noted that SSFs had raised issues of poverty and marginalisation. Mr Moss had alluded to the fact that the SSF felt that the conservation scientists did not always balance their science with indigenous knowledge and the needs of the people. He asked how a correct balance could be achieved, addressing poverty with available resources in a responsible and controllable way and balancing this against environmental and conservation needs. He asked if Prof Butterworth had any suggestions. He asked if implementation of the SSFP was likely to be detrimental to the conservation of the MLR or whether it was possible to come up with an alternative environmental-friendly policy that would also address the needs of the marginalised SSF community. He said that there was a need to inculcate, in citizens, the balance of indigenous knowledge with modern developments. One of the presenters also had commented on the overregulation of the SSF sector and said that conservation scientists over-emphasised conservation at the expense of livelihoods. There had to be a balance. The environment should respond to the socio-economic needs of its immediate occupants. The rigidity of conservation protection for depleted MLR were the exact reasons that led to poaching, and there were problems in continuing this path. He asked Prof Butterworth also to speak to that point. In essence, the scientists thought they had a monopoly over the environmental needs, and the SSFs thought that they had a monopoly over their poverty.
The Chairperson said that Mr Bhanga was starting to contradict himself. Section 10 of the Constitution said that everyone had an inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected - and that was what the Bill and the SSFP were seeking to do. Section 27 said that everyone had a right to have access to sufficient food and water – and the amendments sought to achieve that too.
The Chairperson said that there was still a patriarchal society, where some were expected to provide for others in the home. The National Development Plan (NDP) was speaking to eradication of poverty and unemployment, by 2030. Some presenters raised the need to support infrastructure as well, to allow for processing in the areas where the fish were caught. That needed to be addressed. He was aware that this would require adjustments to the law and regulations in the fisheries sector. The issue would need to be addressed, also, of whether the right to fish a species meant the right to catch and process anywhere, although this was something outside the ambit of the current Bill. He also stressed that stakeholders had to talk about targets for transformation, and stop touting figures that did not reflect the realities. People were continuing to live in poverty. These amendments were not only about ownership of rights, but the whole value chain up until marketing and the sale of goods.
Ms Twala asked whether she had heard Mr Latola correctly about the role of women in fishing, and asked whether women could not be accommodated on the craft.
Mr Latola replied that he thought it important that the SSFs must understand that the Bill had to pass any constitutional challenge, but was aware that anyone claiming otherwise had a democratic right to approach the courts. He asked Ms Twala not to misunderstand him; the SSFs did not want to bar women from fishing but understood that their current vessels were not women-friendly, and this was why they were asking for different vessels that would allow women easier access to the sea. He would have like to see a copy of Prof. Butterworth’s submission before the hearings because he would have liked to comment on it. As President Mandela had said, his were ideals that he was willing to die for – but he hastened to qualify it with – if needs be. When people currently used that quotation they were not aware of the history. He stressed that the SSFP was still built on the notion of multi-species approach. Those first Small Scale industry survivors would call for the policies drafted. Prof. Butterworth seemed to be implying that there was a need for more than one species and he felt a bit uncomfortable with that. He suggested that the SSFs should maybe have access to all species.
Prof Butterworth responded that he did not think there was disagreement between himself and Mr Latola on the objects behind the amendments. He agreed with Ms Steyn, on the difficulties and need for care when drafting legislation; the International Court of Justice had argued at length abut the placement of a comma, and it was in the interests of clarity that his suggestions were made. He had made input to the DAFF, on more points than raised here, but he fully understood the huge task faced by those taking input and it would not be surprising if some matters were overlooked.
Prof Butterworth clarified that the DAFF scientific working groups were appointed by the Chief Director of Research at the DAFF and they consisted of scientists who were appropriately qualified people, with full rights to speak, and decisions were taken by consensus. The National Professional Scientists Act specified who was regarded as a scientist and who was not qualified, but there were also observers allowed in those groups. Fishery science was not a science of isolated pockets and it was accepted that interactions were needed not only with those who had indigenous knowledge - the fishermen – but also management and compliance people, who were represented on working groups. Industry fishermen were allowed as observers, at the discretion of the Chief Director of Research, who had taken a liberal stance. Although there was, formally, a distinction between members and observers, in fact contributions were welcomed, although it must be accepted that sometimes it was only the scientists who would be able to discuss the most technical issues. Prof. Butterworth urged Ms Phaliso and Mr Bhanga to bear in mind that there were indigenous people with rights to be considered in the USA, and they had made inputs to their similar committees on indigenous knowledge. Internationally, indigenous knowledge was recognised, with the qualification “that could be objectively verified”. That meant that pure anecdotes should be distinguished from genuine and verifiable input. On the point that scientists were perceived as too rigid, he noted that fisheries management was not easy. On the previous day, he had been involved in serious debate abut the penguin situation and how that was linked to sardine availability – which may lead to debates about the possible decrease of sardine fishery operations, which might lead to disadvantage to some small scale operators in order to benefit the recovery of the penguin colonies – a matter that required a trade-off. The scientists’ fundamental responsibility was to present the decision makers with the qualifications of those tradeoffs. This example showed that there were not easy issues.
Prof Butterworth responded to Mr Bhanga that there was room, in the SSF, for an appropriate balance for big industry and small scale operators. The word ‘appropriate’ could hide so many things, but someone had to find a sensible balance. He would, however, like to state his major concern around compliance. The big operators landed in big harbours and it was easy to check that what they caught was actually what they were supposed to be fishing. This was far more difficult with small scale operators and he sympathised with DAFF’s problems, because extending the range of rights holders in the fisheries brought with it a very real need for extra resources on compliance, as there were always flaws in the human condition when no one was looking. The Committee had to be aware of the full implications, and provide DAFF with the appropriate resources to enable adequate compliance. It was no secret that the country had major problems in abalone and rock lobster and unless the DAFF was given adequate resources no one would be the winner.
Mr van der Merwe said that he did not agree with Prof. Butterworth over the scientific working groups. He had attended the meetings, and had only seen calculations, but never real counting of the fish. The observers could not vote. The scientists may listen to the SSF contributions, but whether they took them into account was another matter. He hoped that the new Deputy Director General would make it his task to put the scientists in the boats with the SSF.
One observer, given a chance by the Chairperson to speak, said that he had attended a scientific working group meeting, but he had been silenced. He said that some groups were not being given the opportunity to attend meetings. The SSFs knew about the international guidelines on responsible fishing and accepted that a compliance officer should be in place every 5 km, so this was not a new issue.
The Chairperson suggested that this was a debate for anther time as it was not a point that was directly related to the Bill. He summarised that the hearings had been interesting and educational.
Mr Desmond Stevens, Acting Deputy Director General, Fisheries Branch, DAFF presented the Department’s responses to some of the submissions made (see attached document). In brief, some of the misconceptions and misrepresentations that had come up throughout the hearings, most of which had to do with allocated rights, the scientific working groups, matters of compliance and the successes of co-operatives, were addressed.
DAFF felt that it was clear that the majority of the participants at the hearing supported the amendments in their current form, and said that no substantive proposals to amend this had been made.
DAFF also briefly detailed the implementation plan for the Bill and the SSFP. It noted that its role was changing; it had been purely a regulator when still part of the Department of Tourism and Environmental Affairs but was now being directly involved with SSF communities’ sustainable development.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries responses to submissions
- Youth Group of small scale fishers, through Gerald Cloete
- Louisa Hendricks submission
- Mr Maxwell Moss Small Scale Fishers Activist
- Lulamile Ponono from Cebe, Ngungqe and Nxaxo communities from the Eastern Cape
- South African United Fishing Front
- Nassegh Jaffer of Masifundise on the Marine Living Resources Bill 2013
- Professor Doug E. Butterworth of the University of Cape Town presentation
- Gary Thompson submission
- Professor Doug E. Butterworth of the University of Cape Town
- Ndileka Mavuso submission
- Justino Ferreira submission
- Ocean View / Witsands Artisanal Fishers’ Association submission
- Andrew Johnston submission
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting