The focus of this report is on inland riparian communities that are situated in the vicinity of the Jozini, Vanderkloof, and Gariep dams. The Jozini Dam is fed by the Pongola River and is situated in the province of Kwazulu-Natal. Both the Gariep Dam and Vanderkloof Dam are fed by the Orange (Gariep) River, which is the largest river in South Africa. The Gariep Dam is situated in the Free State province, while the Vanderkloof Dam is located 130 km downstream from the Gariep Dam, transcending both the Free State and the Northern Cape provinces. At both the Gariep and Vanderkloof dams, local small-scale fishers fish with handline, and at Vanderkloof specifically, fishers also make use of traditional kraal fishing . At the Jozini dam, fishers mostly use nets to catch fish and need to access the dam with boats.
Masifundise has mobilised and supported inland fishing communities in these areas since 2015, gathering insights and knowledge of various issues experienced within the small-scale fisheries sector. This report is informed by four years of Participatory Action Research in collaboration with the aforementioned inland small-scale fishing communities and includes 18 individual interviews conducted with fishers, community members, and relevant government officials, 7 community focus groups, stakeholder roundtables, and numerous workshops and meetings. In consideration of the precarious conditions in which small-scale fishing activities are taking place at the aforementioned dams, the names of the small-scale fishers referred to in this report have been changed in order to protect their confidentiality.
This report sets out to (1) conceptualise the importance of advancing the perception of small-scale fisheries as work, (2) provide a description of what small-scale fisheries as work look like in everyday practice, (3) highlight the challenges experienced by small-scale fishers in carrying out their livelihood activities, and (4) provides concluding remarks and recommendations for the way forward.