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Towards Fishers Participation in the development of a new policy for the South African Small Scale Fishery

With a process of developing a new fishing policy for the small-scale sector ahead of us, we feel that it is the right time to discuss how and at what level fishers are going to participate in the process. Fisheries management science and empirical evidence from participatory management programmes in South Africa and abroad clearly indicate that shared responsibility and participation is a precondition for successful small-scale fisheries management. Furthermore, it seems evident that participation, at all levels and stages of small-scale fisheries management, increase the fishers ownership of the management system and thereby enhance compliance. At the same time, decentralisation of management responsibilities makes the management system cost effective and thus decreases the financial burden of government. If getting the basics right, we strongly feel that we will be successful in developing the new fishing policy for the small-scale fishing sector with fishing communities together with scientists, and local, provincial and national government.