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Issue No.15
  • :March
  • :2004

Africa/ South Africa

“Small fry”

A report of the Fisher People’s Human Rights Hearings in Western Cape, South Africa held in August 2003.


By Jackie Sunde, contract researcher for Masifundise Development Organization, South Africa


Over the past ten years, since the first free and democratic elections were held in South Africa, considerable changes have been made to the policy and legislation governing people’s access to, and use of, marine resources. Prior to this, large, white commercial fishing interests had dominated the fishing industry and marine economy. Living on the edge of this highly capitalized, export-oriented fishing industry, and trying to make a livelihood, were thousands of black and coloured small-scale, traditional fishers, some of whom fished for subsistence, but most of whom fished in order to make a very modest income, in addition to putting fish, their staple food, on the family dining table.

Most of the fishers were men; however, women played a central role in the pre- and post- production processes. Some of the fishers worked alone as independent contractors—working on a

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