Backing Small-scale Fishers: Opportunities and Challenges in Transforming the Fish Sector

"Globally, small-scale fisheries play a significant role in food security, poverty reduction and income generation. At the 2008 Global Conference on Small-Scale Fishing in Bangkok, Thailand, organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), it was indicated that small-scale fisheries contribute to more than half of the world’s marine and inland fish catch. The importance of this sector is further underlined as it employs over 95% of all men and women engaged in fisheries worldwide and that, of these, more than 90% are to be found in developing countries. In Africa, it is estimated that the fishing sector provides income for over 10 million people engaged in fish production, processing and trade. And the sector contributes to the livelihoods and food security of over 200 million people on the continent. In South Africa, however, fisheries have historically been dominated by the commercial marine sector. Although small-scale fisheries contribute less than 1% to South Africa’s GDP, they play an important role in the provision of protein and employment – particularly in the about 136 coastal communities dotted along South Africa’s 3 000-kilometre coastline. The extent and spread of small-scale fishers covers all the four maritime provinces, especially the Western Cape, where fishing has been an important source of protein among the coastal communities since the 1700s. Small-scale fishers are found both in urban and rural coastal areas."