Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Development Within the Fisheries Community

In line with the new small-scale policy as proposed by the National Fisheries Task Team it should also focus on the future sustainable development of the larger majority of peoples within the fishing communities and gear towards the greater protection of the marine resources. It stresses the need to promote community rights and participation in the resource management, including development of co-management for protection, conservation and rehabilitation of the fishing resources with the emphasis on area/zonal management. It requires the need to develop a system towards the protection of fishing community rights, equity, and human rights. The whole concept of community development has been clearly misunderstood and badly implemented in the past, all because of the promotion of the privatization of the ocean resources by the Individual Transferable or Non- Transferable Quota System [I.T.Q.]. The whole nucleus has been on macro-economics and not the realization that at the micro-level there are a wide range of social, economic, cultural, food security, benefits that can be obtained especially within the fishing industry.There have been vague statements and unfulfilled advancements on job creation, poverty alleviation, transformation, equity, service delivery, and etc but
14.1…. Governments and Civil Society should transform existing systems of unequal ownership, access to and use of marine and coastal resources into systems based on sustainable and equitable use and access rights, and on poverty eradication.
14.2 …. Governments and Civil Society should guarantee the rights of traditional subsistence and artisanal fishers to access to marine and inland fisheries resources, and provide local fisheries dependent communities priority rights to the resources on which they depend for their livelihood.
15.3 …. Clear and fair procedures for participation must be put into place that ensure the involvement of the true representatives of local communities and major groups in all stages of their development.
15.4 …. The public, private and civil society sectors must collaborate in the design and introduction of education and capacity-building programmes that enhance effective participation in development decision-making.
15.5 …. Local communities must be the primary beneficiaries of these programmes of capacity-building for effective participation.
In the South African context small-scale/Artisanal fishers and their communities face major constraints and threats to any positive social and economic development and these are a major challenge for development;
Firstly wealth, power is not evenly distributed and academic knowledge and business skills are seriously lacking and those present Quota or rights holders are doing everything in their capacity to keep the status quo in place especially those who achieved the rights that they obtained during the apartheid years.
The greatest hurdle to overcome is the rent-seeking, money incentive ideology that now exists within our society. Small-scale fishing and those involved in it was once recognized as the lowest type “skollie” {unsophisticated} work by many of social standing, has through the recent Quota system become a winning lottery ticket for all sorts of people but not for the actual fishers themselves. So ingrained in the minds of the many of the people that the great financial gain derived from receiving “paper” quotas is that the vast majority of non-fishers would rather the Individual Quota system remain and ignore that there are numerous other systems in operation around the world. Then there are those who have received rights and become wealthy who would not be conducive to any transformation and turn a blind eye to equity, poverty alleviation and human rights. Competition from non-fisheries interests for access and use of these resources is increasing and this has to be addressed by a strict criteria.
With the Living Resources Act policy in order to achieve the objectives of equity, transformation and poverty alleviation the policy-makers did not deal with the social, economic and cultural needs of the fishers in a balanced way, with no monitoring to analyzing the serious negative effects of its implementation or formulation. The needs, aspirations and capacities of the small-scale fishing communities were completely ignored with the butcher, baker, candlestick maker and those in powerful positions along with their cronies obtaining most of the rights. In order to rectify this it is absolutely necessary if the development is to be success, to investigate and review all allocations and reallocate on the basis of restitution, transformation and poverty alleviation.
The Individual Transferable/Non Transferable Quota System and its huge fees has resulted in many losing their livelihood , extreme poverty, and a social vacuum where vulnerable poor have simply become fractured and unviable, in fact it has produced a human catastrophe. Food security has been reduced and the most peripheral fishing communities are in a severe state of despair with disorder, poaching and crime an accepted way of life. This has led to them becoming easy to manipulated or buy over with money payments/ loans by the opportunists and con-artists in order for them to achieve their immoral objectives and derail any empowerment of the disadvantaged peoples.
The acceptance of “fishing community stakeholders “that are undemocratic, self appointed leaders, marketers, and groups that are not from the actual activity of the harvesting community has continually led to opportunistic behavior and this will continue to derail and corrupt democracy and honest development.
Conflicts exists into the acceptance and the implementation and development of the small-scale fishing policy between the haves and have-nots and this will lead to direct friction between the two that will eventually lead to violent confrontation, and a way must be found to identify the problem and to resolve it.
In order to overcome these factors it is therefore necessary for the attitudes, skills, knowledge, resources, institutional organization and methodologies of intervention change significantly. Wealth generated by the legal entities as promoted by the new small-scale policy will make a significant contribution to the local economy and employment if the profits made are used for the benefit of the greater communities by the creation of alternative businesses and projects. This will require harmonization and integration of all departments within government including the private sector working within the framework of the Rio Declaration, Agenda 21 of Johannesburg Summit and the Right to Adequate Food [FAO]. It should be noted that the major theme of Agenda 21 is the need to eradicate poverty by giving poor people more access to the resource they need to live sustainably and this is supported by Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Every endeavor should be made to register the legitimate traditional fish harvesters and the responsibility of them electing this “new” leadership overseen and run by government officials within a democratic environment. Prejudice against the poachers should be dismissed and they should be allowed to participate as stakeholders under an amnesty agreement. Zonation should be demarcated specifying the kind of vessel, gear and times that could be used with the full participation of the fishing communities, accepting their arrangements with other area management groups, {how, when and where}. There should be a stronger implementation of fisheries regulations, better surveillance, control and monitoring {M.C.S} with the legal entities/ co-operatives being given power to “help” the authorities in data gathering and to sustain the resource and contain poaching. The responsibility of running the legal entity should in the beginning be done by government appointed officials in order for the fishing community to obtain the necessary skills on a learning curve basis. In an effort to avoid any job losses in the present formal labor constituency and have better data control the “legal entity” shall be required to market their fish through a legal registered existing company, where they obtain a share of the profits above the catching payment of such catches for further use towards diversification of livelihoods and alternative employment. The greatest asset but a challenge is the task of ‘helping the communities to help itself, but the people should be supervised to taking the step to fulfilling both their material and human value needs. Out of this they can gain the human values of self-reliance, self-sufficiency and human dignity and this cannot be achieved by the action of individual rights but by a collective activity. The establishment of a joint co-operative/legal entity will do away with the present type of slave labor [casual] employed by the quota holders and would open the doors for private sector funding for machinery, credit, and government social aid {Basic unemployment, Accident fund,}
Many different projects are embraced by fishing communities around the world such as restaurants, owning of supply stores, tourism, whale watching, shell collecting boat trips, boat building, home fish cuisine shops etc. The diversification of livelihoods and alternative employment constitute important poverty-alleviation and food security strategies in coastal communities. This can involve approaches for reducing the dependence on only fish harvesting through complementary income generating activities.
We need the guidance and support of government, private sector and civil society to overcome the injustices that prevail in our society then and only then can the small-scale policy empower the poor to overcome the hobbled, poverty stricken and decimated life that they lead.

Andrew Johnston.
Artisanal Fishers Association.
6th August 2010

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