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Strengthening the voices of communities to participate in the inland fisheries policy process and co-manage fisheries resources

  • Amount funded: £200,000
  • Year: 2019
  • Duration: 48 months
  • Locations: South Africa
  • Grant stream: Annual Grants Call

Inland fishing communities experience difficulties in participating in fisheries policy processes because of a lack of information in local languages, limited understanding of the policy processes, and difficulties accessing consultation sessions.

Project partners
Masifundise Development Trust
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How we are helping

Supporting our partners to empower approximately 500 people from small-scale inland fishing communities to participate in decision making on the inland fisheries sector and eventually co-manage resources.

About the project

In South Africa, the potential of inland fisheries to contribute to food security, livelihoods, and economic development has been limited by the absence of a regulatory framework. In 2015, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries initiated the process of developing a National Inland Fisheries Policy. The policy is aimed at creating a regulatory framework for the inland fisheries sector to promote sustainable growth and sectoral transformation. The draft Inland Fisheries Policy foresees that inland fishing communities will be involved in the co-management of fishery resources.

The first round of public consultations on the policy took place in May 2018. However, inland fishing communities experienced difficulties in participating due to a lack of awareness about the process, a lack of availability of the policy in local languages, and the distances between the consultation sessions and constituents. The project aims to address this lack of participation, and empower approximately 500 people from small-scale inland fishing communities in Vanderkloof Dam (Northern Cape), Gariep Dam (Free State), Jozini Dam, and Pongola Floodplain (Kwazulu-Natal), to participate in future consultation processes and discussions on the inland fisheries sector.

This will be achieved by:

  • establishing and strengthening local and regional inland fisheries organisations in target locations
  • building the capacity of inland fisheries organisations and communities to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities in the sector and engage in policy advocacy around these
  • developing user-friendly and accessible materials on the draft policy for use by inland fishing communities
  • producing community-led research reports for advocacy on key topics relating to inland fisheries
  • engaging in dialogue with government departments, including the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries at national level, as well as the departments of Environment and Nature Conservation and Agriculture and Rural Development at the provincial level.

By the end of the project, inland fishing communities would have provided input to the National Inland Fisheries Policy process which is expected to be finalised by 2023. Through the fishers’ organisations, established during the project, inland fishing communities will be better placed to engage in the policy process and continue to advocate for their needs, with continued support from Mafundise Development Trust.

Project Partners
Masifundise Development Trust

Masifunde has been working with coastal fishing communities since 2004 and has been working with inland fishing communities since 2015. The organisation
supported the formation of a fisher movement in 2012 — Coastal Links South Africa, which now has over 5000 members in 100 fishing communities across the country. Together, the organisations have been the driving civil society force in the development and implementation of the National Small-scale Fisheries Policy (2012). In 2015, they promoted the engagement of inland fishing communities with Rhodes University and the Northern Cape Department of Land Reform and Rural Development to ensure access to new fishing grounds.

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