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Issue No:75
  • :January
  • :2017

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
—a Native American saying

South Africa / MPAs

Reaffirming Rights

The traditional net fishers of Langebaan Lagoon MPA in South Africa have proved victorious in adopting a human-rights-based approach to small-scale fisheries


This article is by Jackie Sunde (jsunde@telkomsa.net), Member of ICSF, and researcher at University of Cape Town, South Africa


A recent High Court Judgement in support of small-scale fishers’ rights lays the foundation for a human-rights-based approach towards the implementation of the policy on small-scale fisheries and future Marine Protected Area (MPA) planning and governance in South Africa.

The Langebaan Lagoon MPA lies approximately 120 km northwest of Cape Town, along the western Atlantic coastline of South Africa. The lagoon is home to one of South Africa’s oldest traditional net fisheries. Originally inhabited by the indigenous Cochoqua who were gradually chased out of the region, the area was settled by the Dutch during colonial times and they established farms along the shores of the lagoon. These waters gained a reputation for fine fish, particularly the large mullet (known locally as ‘harders’) caught in the sheltered, nutrient-rich lagoon. The small group of traditional net fishers of Langebaan Lagoon who continue to fish today are mostly descendants...

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