Training programme hope for fishermen

Ocean View fishermen Charles America, Darion America, Ricardo Stringer, Mogamat Bassier, Gosain Williams, Shaun Hammer and Fuaad Williams are learning business skills.

Ocean View’s small-scale fishermen face an uncertain future, but a training programme is offering them new ways to earn a living.

It’s called the Alternative Livelihoods Project, and it is offered by the Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Institute (FADI), funded by the SA International Maritime Institute (SAIMI).

It’s a programme of business coaching, entrepreneurial training and construction skills (including accredited brick paving), and it offers hope to subsistence
fishing communities in marginalised coastal areas in both the Eastern and Western Cape.

Launched in June in
Ocean View, Kenton-on-Sea in the Eastern Cape, and Saldanha Bay, the project will benefit up to
90 fishermen, 30 in each area, including fishing crews, those
with existing and pending rights, seasonal fish-processing workers and the children of fishing families.

FADI chairperson, Jeremy Marillier, said he expected the Fisheries Branch of the new Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries (DEFF) to allocate rights to
small-scale fisheries co-operatives during the fishing rights allocation policy process (FRAPP 2020).

Alternative Livelihoods was intended to complement income from fishing, not to replace it, he said.

“The issues of equitable access, fair rights allocation and restorative justice for small-scale fishers and coastal communities remain the core concerns that should be resolved by the state.”

FADI project manager, Sulaiman Appoles, said fishing, especially at small-scale level, was an uncertain business.

“It is seasonal and fish stocks are declining due to climate change, over-fishing and illegal fishing,
so the reality is that current resources are not sufficient for sustainable livelihoods.”

The 20-week-long training programme would help fishermen find other sources of income while replenishing fish stocks, he said.

There are 27 people enrolled in the Ocean View group.

“The idea of alternative livelihoods is to allow beneficiaries to earn an income in addition to fishing.”

The project applied the same strategy in mining towns, where mining firms had left, leaving communities struggling to find new forms of income.

“Lenin referred to this as an ‘interregnum – the period between two periods. Many economic sectors in fact are finding themselves in that space between spaces. And whatever
support is provided in the interregnum could well, in fact, shape what the next phase looks like,” he said.

Better managed fisheries
could reduce the role of industrial fishers, creating prosperity for all in a sustainable natural environment, Mr Appoles said.

“Small scale fishers have never harmed the environment,
have never harmed the food chain, have never harmed opportunity for all – upstream and downstream in the value chain. There are
huge fisheries in other parts of the world organised around small-scale and not industrial fishers.”

The Alternative Livelihoods Project is set to run to the end of March 2020.

The work of FADI is endorsed by the Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN and the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU).