The DFFE announces final list of declared small-scale fishers in the Western Cape Province

16 March 2023


The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) has announced the final list of declared small-scale fishers in the Western Cape.

The list was compiled in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act’s regulations related to small-scale fishing in South Africa, and followed the Western Cape High Court judgment in favour of the department and the minister that set aside the initial process of declaring small-scale fishers in the province. The initial process had happened in 2016.

The minister had approached the high court for a review of the process after an audit of the previous process about which there had been numerous complaints. The setting aside of the initial process meant that the department was required to re-run the process in a fair and transparent manner by addressing the challenges that had arisen.

The new process of identifying and declaring small-scale fishers in the Western Cape followed a more a detailed and refined process. Some of the measure that were put in place included consultation with community-based organisations and community mobilisation; simplifying and translating verification forms and guiding documents and visiting the qualifying communities to distribute and explain verification forms in local languages. It also includes providing communities more than two months to complete their verification forms with the assistance of the department and community-based organisations and the establishment of a verification forms assessment protocol and consistency.

Out of over 4 000 verification forms that were submitted, over 84% of applicants have been declared successful and are thus recognised as small-scale fishers in line with the Marine Living Resources Act.

This is a significant improvement from the previous process wherein a mere 31% had been successful and declared small-scale fishers. More than 30% of successful and declared small-scale fishers are woman, while 68% of the fishers are coloured, 25% are black fishers and three percent are white.

The improved success rate is the results of the new approach and general improved transparency in the process which not only saw improved collaboration with communities, but also the provision of clear messages to fisher communities.

The new process and its outcomes have been widely welcomed by fishing communities. The results have further been backed up by an independent observer report on the level of fairness and transparency of the process.

Fishers whose application have been unsuccessful are able to appeal the decisions. The department is currently distributing record of decision letters which outline the reasons why each person was unsuccessful. In addition, the department is providing all the relevant appeal forms and templates for appeals.

The department is in the process of assisting all the declared small-scale fishing communities with declared small-scale fishers to register co-operatives that will be eligible to be allocated 15-year fishing rights before October 2023.

General published reasons (GPR) on the process, a list of successful and declared small-scale fishers and the independent report can be located here » Feedback page | Rollout of Western Cape small-scale fishing rights : re-run of the 2016 process


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