Assessing community access, utilisation and management of fisheries resources at uMthwalume, KwaZulu-Natal.
Coastal communities are disadvantaged, and struggle to access fishery resources due to legislative requirements. This is compounded by overfishing from those possessing permits, and those without (legal and illegal fishers). This reduces catch, and threatens ecosystems and the socio-economic status of the adjacent communities. In KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), the uMthwalume community is an economically vulnerable community that depends on fishery for their livelihood. Legal requirements, however, pose obstacles to access and overfishing decreases the local stock of marine and freshwater fish, leaving community members socio-economically vulnerable. The aim of this study is to assess the community‟s access, utilisation and management of the fisheries resources in uMthwalume, KZN. Methodology: Data was collected by distributing 80 questionnaires to the residents of the coastal community of uMthwalume. A further 16 informant interviews were carried out and 3 focus group discussions were conducted. The data that was collected was then transcribed and the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used as a tool for analysis. The results revealed that twenty eight percent of the respondents stated that the fisheries resources were always accessible. Seventy two percent of the respondents reported that they could not always gain access to the resources. Fifty six percent of the respondents indicated that they were unsatisfied with the current permit system, particularly their daily quota. These respondents added that they found that the daily quota hardly sustained their livelihoods, especially since the majority of them were unemployed. Fourty percent of the respondents indicated that they were satisfied with the current permit system; whilst four percent communicated that they were unsure. About sixty eight percent of the respondents communicated that government social grants comprised the majority of their income, and that this was supplemented by income generated from the sale of fish. As a result, the respondents perceived the resource management as being ineffective and oppressive. There seemed to be great tension brewing between one of the stakeholders Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (EKZNW), responsible for the management of the fisheries resources, and the community members. The difficult relationship between the EKZNW and the community has been put under more strain in the past year, as result of a shooting that took place, when an EKZNW patrol officer shot a fisher from the community. It is recommended that there be a thorough analysis of possible alternative livelihood activities that the community of uMthwalume could successfully engage in, so as to improve their quality of living. There is a particular need for an open dialogue between the different stakeholders, where the uMthwalume community can feel they are fully integrated in decision making process.
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