A critical analysis of the lack of consideration of small scale fisheries in the allocation of fishing rights in South Africa.
Marine resources, in particular the fishing industry, continue to play a major role in sustaining South Africa’s economy and social development and contribute to employment and security of the local community. Historically, the allocation of fishing rights was conferred upon predominantly white-owned commercial companies by the South African apartheid government. However, with the advent of democracy in 1994, the government had the responsibility to draft a fisheries policy that would aim to redress historical imbalances and this resulted in the introduction of the Marine Living Resources Act 18 of 1998. This dissertation aims critically to analyse whether this statute has been successful in remedying the issue of unequal fishing rights amongst commercial, subsistence, recreational and artisanal fishers. In undertaking this, an evaluation of the several policies that are attached to this statute will be presented and comments will be made in relation to the constitutional and political aspects of this subject. Allied to this, there will be a consideration of how international law influences the introduction of statutes relating to marine living resources. The main approach for this dissertation has been a literature review which included the use of both electronic databases and books available in libraries. The research shows that in spite of the enactment of the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998, artisanal fishers or small-scale fisheries continue to face discrimination and large commercial fisheries continue to dominate the industry. A Small-Scale Fisheries Policy was adopted in June 2012 to remedy the situation but there is currently no implementation plan in place. The major issue however is that the Act itself does not provide a definition for small-scale fishing and it would therefore have to be amended, in order to accommodate this category.