Minister Barbara Creecy launches Eastern Cape oceans economy master plan and hands over permits to small-scale fishers
06 March 2020
Ms Nomakhosazana Meth, MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform
Ms Thokozile Sokanyile, Executive Mayor of the OR Tambo District Municipality
Ms Nonfusi Nxawe, Executive Mayor of the Amathole District Municipality
Mr Nyaniso Nelani, Executive Mayor King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality
Professor Denver Webb from Nelson Mandela University
Senior Officials from the Fisheries Branch
Members of the local fisher communities
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a pleasure for me to be here amongst you this morning for a joint celebration. As you have already heard today we launch the country’s first provincial Oceans Economy Master Plan, and we hand over 15 year fishing rights to 53 small-scale fisher co-operatives, the backbone of many local communities in this province.
Today’s celebration comes six months after our President Cyril Ramaphosa came here to the OR Tambo Municipality to launch the District Delivery Model for the first time.
At that launch he promised you that National, Provincial and Local government would come together to benefit communities in here in the OR Tambo Municipality and in other areas.
Today we come here to put his words into practice for the direct benefit of the OR Tambo, Alfred Ndzo and Amatole Districts Municipality. Today I honour a promise I made to the Mayor of Port St Johns, Councillor Nomvuzo Cingo that we would return to support a plan to bring tourism, jobs and infrastructure to her town.
Let me begin the good news story today by thanking the Eastern Cape Provincial Government and the Nelson Mandela Municipality for the significant co-operation we have enjoyed in partnering with you to develop the first provincial Oceans Economy Masterplan.
The Eastern Cape, as we all know, is blessed with over 800 kilometres of coastline. Across the world, more and more nations recognise the role our oceans can play in combatting poverty, unemployment and creating inclusive growth and jobs in parts of the world where land is overcrowded and degraded.
Our country is one of many African countries to adopt an Oceans Economy Strategy following the decision by the African Union in 2015 to Launch the African Integrated Maritime Strategy by declaring the following ten years to 2025, “the decade of the African Seas”
This strategy, recognizes that African nations rely on the ocean for trade, transport, energy, food, tourism, recreation, and many other goods and services. This means our oceans must be managed responsibly and co-operatively for the benefit of all African countries.
Here in the OR Tambo, Alfred Ndzo and Amatole District municipalities, The Oceans Economy Masterplan aims to assist our people to take advantage of this unique natural resource by developing infrastructure of both small harbours; promoting tourism by improving facilities including beach access, safety, recreational areas and nature reserves.
Already the Department of Environment has built picnic facilities and public ablutions at Port St Johns and we are in the process of building a tidal pool to keep bathers safe from sharks and drownings. Elsewhere we are assisting the Eastern Cape Government to improve tourism accommodation in your nature reserves to promote tourist visits to this beautiful part of the world.
Fishing has always been a source of livelihood and an important source of household food security for many families in the Eastern Cape. Tragically for more than a hundred and fifty years families have had no formal right to fish and have often experienced harassment from law enforcement officers.
In 2016, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries amended its legislation to recognise the importance of small-scale fishers.
Following the launch of an Expression of Interest process, 316 communities from the four coastal provinces registered their interest prompting the department to physically visit all co-operatives to register and declare small-scale fishers in South Africa.
In the Eastern Cape, 78 of the132 communities which expressed interest were declared small-scale fishing communities in line with the requirements of the Regulations relating to Small-Scale Fisheries. A total of 5 335 individual fishers were declared small-scale fishers from the 78 small-scale fishing communities.
Today is a very special day in the history of the long, long struggle of traditional small fishermen and women. Today is the day we formally hand over fifteen year fishing rights to over 4361 individuals organised into fifty three co-operatives in OR Tambo, Alfred Ndzo and Amatole Municipalities.
Let me say this again: today we will hand over fishing rights to four thousand, three hundred and sixty one individuals in this province. This is the largest group of small fisher men and women to have ever been given rights anywhere in our country! Today is indeed a day to celebrate!
The rights being handed over today are free of charge. Cooperatives are exempted from paying any fees for the next three seasons. Today we also giving you permits for East Coast Rock Lobster. The season opened on 1 March 2020 and, with these permits, you will be able to start fishing East Coast Rock Lobster for commercial purpose as early as next week Monday.
Co-operatives must decide whether they will fish for food or for the family table, or for commercial purposes. Fish allocated for own use will be accessed by all members for food security. Fish species requested for commercial purposes, will be owned and controlled by the co-operative for the co-operatives’ business operations.
During the assessment of fishing rights applications, it was noticed that the majority of species requested were line fish species. It was also noticed that some of the species require use of a vessel.
Therefore, Total Allowable Effort (TAE) will need to be availed through the apportionment of TAE between small-scale and the existing commercial sector when the department allocates commercial rights in 2021.
In the meantime, co-operatives will be able to fish from shore using hook and line and will further share an Effort of approximately 20 vessels for Eastern Cape while the fishing rights allocation process (FRAP 2021) is being concluded.
So let me tell you ladies and gentlemen what is in the basket of fishing rights we are giving you today: first there are muscles and oysters and sea weed. Secondly there is East Coast Lobster and hake squid, traditional line fish, and sardine during the sardine run. Co-operatives are also allowed to do abalone ranching.
Now Ladies and gentlemen we understand that in order for small fisher men and women to be able to move from this hand to mouth existence to making a decent living, the 53 newly established co-operatives will need support.
You will not be left to your own devices. The Department is partnering with Municipalities and the provincial authorities to facilitate support programs, as well as with the Department of Small Business Development and the National Skills Fund to provide training and capacity building programmes to small-scale fisheries co-operatives.
You need training in business and financial skills. Businesses need to keep records and books. Co-operatives are governed by laws members will need to understand. You help to run the co-operatives on business lines and support to deal with conflicts that will arise. You need to invest in equipment
Our sister Department of small business development, has agreed that they will bring their 2 agencies here to OR Tambo Alfred, Ndzo and Amatole. These agencies are called SEDA: the Small Business Development Agency and SEFA : the Small Business Finance Agency that gives financial support.
When we finish handing out the fishing rights there will be a session with the Department of Fisheries who will explain how the Department of Small Business Development and its two agencies and other government authorities are going to support you going forward.
One of the things we have agreed, is that you will not be able to come here to Mthatha for training on a regular basis. Instead these organisations will have to decentralise the training and come to where you live.
Ladies and Gentlemen, there is one thing we need to ask you to do for us going forward.
As we benefit from our oceans economy today, we must make sure our children and our grandchildren will continue to enjoy these same benefits in the years that lie ahead. Those of you who have been fisher men and women for a long time know that there are less and less fish in the sea. You know that there are people fishing in our waters who are not supposed to be there. Our Department in the process of developing a strategy to protect our Oceans from those who are not supposed to fish in our waters. You have an important role to play in the years to come as our ears and eyes on the ground.
We also have to ask your help to support our Marine Protected Reserves so that we have places which are like fish nurseries where fish can reach maturity, lay eggs and small fish can grow without being disturbed. These protected areas play an important role in making sure that your children and grand-children will still be able to make a living from the sea.
In conclusion Ladies and Gentlemen, today marks the start of a new chapter in economic development for the Eastern Cape. Developing the oceans economy is a game changer for all communities living along our beautiful coastline. I wish you good fortune and every success in the implementation of the province’s Oceans Economy Master Plan.
To the fishers who have lobbied and worked tirelessly to secure your rights to earn a living and feed your families, I join you in celebration.
I thank you