Thursday, May 20, 2010

Draft Small Scale Fisheries Policy for South Africa

Department Agriculture Forestry & Fisheries.
Small-Scale Fisheries Workshop Ritz Hotel 7th -8th May Sea Point
Agenda---- Draft Small Scale Fisheries Policy.

After years of where we have become the victims of suffering through an uncaring fishing policy of marginalization and non-recognition that resulted in our human rights and values have been trampled upon it was gratifying to be presented with a draft policy that leans towards rectifying these injustices. The workshop was basically had four sticky points to decide.
!. Individual Rights vs. Communal Rights.
After a Power Point presentation by myself and lots of emotional debate, Communal Rights was by consensus accepted as the only option. This must be seen as an important victory in our struggle for recognition and freedom. The declared good intentions to enforce the principles of our deliberations from the make-happeners [policy-makers] were admirable to note. Whether this is a guarantee or mere camouflage as it was on previous occasions has to be seen in the context that market forces and money and those who control it can easily erode democracy. Those who want to introduce sustainable development for the poorer communities now need to think hard about on how to end the decimation of equity, the corrupt practices and the exploitation of the farm and fish workers, all which now fall under the auspice of the new Agriculture and Fisheries Department. Those “marketeers” or opportunists who so much wanted to retain the status quo of the Individual Quota System should really educate themselves on International Law, trends, human values and on the gospel of our struggle against apartheid. The belief that wealth accumulation by an individual can rectify the ills of our society is absurd especially with advancement that “the poor will become less poor only if the rich become much richer”. The small-scale fishing communities and farmers can only truly acquire freedom if their traditional rights are replaced with effective rights where they are allowed to harvest the resources for a livelihood, food security is ensured, integrated participatory management replaces “unrepresented” patronizing management and communal development precedes possessive individualism. What was clear from the debate beside that shared principles that was not readily accepted is that the institution of a co-operative [legal entities] was poorly understood or deliberately misunderstood. It is an actuality that these community structures are now accepted as vital to achieving the Millennium Development goals of alleviating poverty and for sustainable growth.
E.g. In Europe there is 235,000 co-operative enterprises with 5.4 million employees and 140 million members in 33 countries.
The promotion of the values of; equality, solidarity, democracy plus the ethics of honesty, openness and shared social responsibility can be an asset to the State. They have emerged as democratic social and economic movements that have led to much confidence in these value led business bodies. It produces larger wage payments than in the first economy, allows for access to credit and financial institutions and puts fair trade practices into perspective thus having improved the living standards of many in the country were it exists. They act as a safety net against volatile monetary markets, protects the vulnerable from exploitation by unscrupulous “marketeers” and provide a huge supply of food to the local market, a major factor in contributing to food security. Self-reliance and self ownership gives a sense of dignity within the members and contributes tremendously to further economic development amongst the broader people within that community.
Those who have tasted the poison of quota wealth displayed a resentment to the vision of the Artisanal Fishers Association of “we don’t want to be rich we just want access” [our second banner]. What it actually means to us is;
We challenge the merit of this argument on how can the wisdom of getting rich be promoted if those who have been privileged can suddenly understand the meaning of poverty. The levels of poverty within the fishing communities can be gauged from absolute to micro and here we have to distinguish between the two and fully understand what our vision {A.F.A.] actually means. A person that cannot provide for his family’s basic needs; where the mother scavenging scraps of food from dirt bins, a women who sells her body, a father who commits a criminal act [rob, steal], children who resort to begging on the street in order to put food on the table is in absolute poverty [deprivation]. These are the vulnerable people who are in a constant survival mode that bear physical abuse through economic oppression, inequality and the I.T.Q. system, who have nothing and where getting out of the environment of hunger is there only desire. Then there are those few who have received a fishing quota who now want to pursue richness and desire more and wish to chase for more attachments to materialistic gains who no longer know the meaning of enough. They falsely claim the status of micro poverty who see inequality as poverty and not the other way around and believe that “I’m alright Jack and to hell with anybody else”, and believe wealth will reduce poverty, this can destroy our dream of self-sufficiency along with our culture of help-mekaar [helping each other] - this wonderful tradition of a co-operative spirit, is sabotaged by their lack of accepting the fact that they will also become an exploiter and a destroyer. Ignoring human values and social responsibility, this selfish behavior compels them into an activity for more beyond sufficiency and instead of the quest for contentment, they begin to desire to be “better” by having the biggest and best within the “designer” cult of global consumerism, This is what I meant when I ended my presentation with the saying;
“I am content with what I have,
Little be it or much,
And contentment shall I crave
Because thou givers much.”

A langgaaner {merchant] should be acknowledged as such and should be allowed to maneuver in his own environment but the economic promotion of putting fishers and merchants in the same basket has led to the fisher folk being exploited and becoming slave labor to unscrupulous opportunists.
“Those who have all the money have no morals,
Those who all the morals have no money”
When small-scale farmers and fishers can harvest their own food through having unimpeded access to the land and ocean then and only then can they be truly free. Meager hand-outs or limited availability of access to the land and oceans deliberately inflicts on the fishers and farmers conditions calculated to bring about their physical destruction and community impoverishment.
It must come from the four “R’s” - RESTITUTION – RESTRUCTURING – REVIEWING – and REALLOCATING.
The allocations seen by many as unfair and corrupt have been given to some privileged professional groups of the new elites consisting of public servants, lawyers, politicians and other non bona-fide fish harvesters and this must be reviewed and reallocated. One family has a quota worth several millions of Rands [$] while many traditional fishing families have nothing and has to irk a living out of begging and other casual work. The rich and connected were able to afford to apply for the expensive allocation form and get rights while the poverty-stricken regular fisher was left out to dry. The Quota system was not put in place on the basis of the promise of all shall share in the wealth of the country or restoring the rights of the deprived fisher folk but designed to reward advantaged few.
If the marine scientists were to put away their computers and battery of mathematical dictatorial models and understand that fish populations are not static but chaotic and is governed by environmental changes and weather conditions brought about by El Nino and la Nino they will surely have a rethink on the inshore Total Allowable Catch statistics. [Please note that I am not mentioning Global Warming]. If the aloofness and arrogance of the scientists and the prejudice between two groups were to be put aside and traditional knowledge is taken into account then this marriage will make for a wonderful fish management tool for improved allocations.
Sustainability of our resource can not be achieved unless we first establish a stable just society that focuses on building equal opportunity of access that benefits the present disenfranchised fishing communities where they take joint responsibility of protecting the environment and marine life.
They have the option of being integrated into the new small-scale policy vision, principles and implementation plan in some legitimate way or working outside of the dedicated area. It is obvious that the two systems cannot work together in order to obtain the objectives for meaningful community development.
The fishing communities wish to be recognized not marginalized, to lead a life of dignity to taste the fruits of democracy, we wish to be bestowed the right to pursue our traditional livelihoods.
Andrew W. Johnston. Artisanal Fishers Association. [chairperson.]-South Africa

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