Addressing the summit, Minister Senzeni Zokwana said it was important that the sector adopt a mining-type charter that could be used when rights are issued.
“We need to make sure that fisheries becomes an entity with the requisite skills such that when we issue rights, we are scientific, we are legally correct, we look at our policies, we look at law, the international law of the seas so that we conform to all those,” he said.
“When we talk transformation in the fishing industry we need to be honest in our discussions in order for government to adequately deliver and achieve on this imperative.
“I invite all those that have resources at their disposal to come forward with workable suggestions on how we can achieve substantive transformation in the sector without collapsing and jeopardising businesses and investments already made.
“South Africa, as a developing nation, needs to intensively engage with every aspect of economic growth opportunity to achieve prosperity. The ocean’s economy and more specifically, fisheries, and aquaculture present such opportunity.
“I urge that each and every one of industry players come to the party to ensure that the transformation agenda in the fishing sector is realised during the 2020 fishing rights allocation process.
“Small-scale fisheries will play a critical role in addressing food security and unemployment. It is at the best interest of the industry to embrace it and extend a helping hand to them.”
While the issues around uplifting small-scale fishers is at the heart of many fishing communities, there is very little said in political party manifestos, which community-based organisations say high- lights that their situation is not prioritised.
In its manifesto, the ANC gives a broad overview on its approach to growing the ocean economy and talks briefly about finalising fishing quotas in order to support aquaculture and sustainable livelihoods.
The EFF leans heavily on bringing in what it calls wide-spread transformation by allocating rights and licences to small-scale and emerging black fishing companies as well as providing subsidies to fishing communities and intensify the development of black participants in areas that include the West Coast.
Masifundise Development Trust’s director, Naseegh Jaffer, said the way political parties addressed fishing rights issues in their manifesto showed how removed they were from the real challenges.