Title: Moving Subsistence Fisheries in South Africa to Commercial Fisheries: Pros and Cons

Author(s): Marisa Kashorte
Final project
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South Africa; Marine Living Resource Act (MLRA); subsistence fishers;


Subsistence fishers in South Africa were formally recognised as a special fisheries sector in 1998 by the Marine Living Resource Act (MLRA). Political changes in the country i.e. the end of the white dominated regime apartheid, added both urgency and expectations of broadened access. Approximately 28 000 people are identified as subsistence fishers in South Africa, with a further 175 398 people in total directly depending on marine resources to meet the basic requirements for living. These fishers are generally poor and do not make enough profit from their fishing activities to improve their lifestyles. Since the MLRA, reasonable progress has been made in South Africa towards legalizing subsistence fishers. However, the task of developing clear guidelines or mechanisms for the formation of commercial fisheries as an alternative to subsistence fisheries has not been considered. Many of these subsistence fishers are pushing towards commercialisation because most feel hampered by the trade restrictions that are imposed on them by the law and routinely violate these restrictions anyway. Thus, it has become quite urgent to seek a solution to the subsistence fishers problem and, in particular, determine whether they should be allowed to become commercial fishers or not. However, with the persistent problem of marine resources and other considerations of social interdependence, it does not make much sense to consider the problem of subsistence fishers in isolation. Whether or not they should be allowed to become commercial should be based on consideration. This project attempts to identify potential fisheries that should be considered to commercial fisheries. However, it recommends that these resources not be moved to the commercial sector by removing them from subsistence fisher people rather, empowering these fishers to operate the management of these resources under a combination of property rights of TURF’s (territorial user rights of fishing) and community quotas.

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