SOUTH AFRICA – The South African Government has expressed its commitment in transforming the fishing sector as it seeks to expand the multi-billion sector which is currently dominated by only a few companies, reports Business Day.

Senzeni Zokwana, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister said the ministry is finalising the allocation of 15-year fishing rights to registered co-operatives comprised small-scale fishers.

According to the Minister, the fishing sector has so far registered 75 co-operatives in Eastern Cape comprised of just more than 5000 small-scale fishers, 45 registered co-operatives comprised of 2,184 small-scale fishers in KwaZulu-Natal

He also said that and other co-operatives that will be made up of more than 2,500 small-scale fishers in Western Cape.

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

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

“This initiative has seen more than 10,000 individual traditional fishers being recognised as small-scale fishers for the first time in SA’s history.

Over 200 communities in the four coastal provinces will now be able to access marine resources legally for the purpose of participating in the ocean’s economy and for food security,” he said  

Earlier on the Minister said that the small-scale fishing regulations with the entire legal framework had been approved and are being implemented in the four coastal provinces. 

The small-scale fishing sector was designed to directly benefit approximately 30 000 people from coastal communities and is expected to transform the entire fishing industry.

In 2017, SA’s big fishing companies, Sea Harvest and Brimstone, and Old Mutual’s Masisizane Fund all committed to the establishment of a US$ 2.17million fisheries development fund to assist small-scale players.

The oceans economy and the broader agricultural sector presents one of the greatest opportunities to boost SA’s economic growth and create jobs.