Marquees collapse on Humansdorp residents during World Fisheries Day

NOVEMBER 23, 2015

Several people sustained minor injuries after two marquee tents collapsed during a World Fisheries Day event, which was organised by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Humansdorp on Saturday. 

"It is not clear what led to this incident. Government will investigate what led to this matter.

"Thirteen people, including nine school kids, sustained minor injuries and were treated at the local hospital," said Bomikazi Molapo, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Senzeni Zokwana’s Spokesperson, in a statement.

Molapo said that Minister Zokwana and Eastern Cape Rural Reform and Agrarian Development MEC, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, who addressed the masses that gathered at the local stadium, apologized to locals.

"[The] Minister and [the] MEC [later] visited the children, who were treated at the local hospital's outpatient section. All the injured have already been discharged."

Minister Zokwana was in the town to use the World Fisheries Day to engage the local fishing industry on existing opportunities to fight poverty and create jobs as well as to announce progress on the Fishing Rights Allocations Process (FRAP 2015/16) and the SmallScale Fishing Policy as well as to launch a new fishing app called Abalobi Mobile App, which was developed by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the University of Cape Town - the app is designed to cover all aspects of small-scale fisheries governance from 'hook to cook'.

"It has been estimated that the majority of the millions of fishers and fish farmers in the world are small-scale fishers and they collectively harvest half of the world’s fish caught for human consumption, income and livelihoods.

"It has also been estimated that 135 million are directly or indirectly employed in small-scale fisheries and small-scale aquaculture and that an estimated 10 million Africans rely on small-scale fisheries as their primary livelihood and a further 90 million (farmers and resource poor) depend on fishing as part of a diversified livelihood strategy," the department said.

"All along the South African coastline, men, women and children have been living in coastal communities harvesting marine resource for consumption, livelihoods medicinal purposes, and as part of cultural and spiritual practices for thousands of years.

"But due to the past laws and systems, many small-scale fishers in fishing communities have been severely marginalised. For the first time in South Africa, small-scale fishers will be recognised and this will contribute to much needed transformation in the fishing industry."

The department has changed the law to provide for a legal framework to recognise small-scale fishers throughout the four coastal provinces. The department is finalising small-scale fisheries regulations that will prescribe how fishing rights will be allocated to small-scale fishers in a form of basket-of-species.

In the Eastern Cape, the department, will provide much needed support programmes to this province’s small-scale fishers.

"These will include assistance to small-scale fishers to form cooperatives and assisting these cooperatives to apply for guaranteed small-scale fishing rights.

"As part of Operation Phakisa, the department is looking at developing small harbours and launching sites that will mainly serve small-scale fishers’ operations. Therefore, the department aims to make a significant dent to poverty within the small-scale fishing communities and villages and to improve the local economies of fishing communities and villages through improved value chain and linking fishing to other sectors like tourism," it said.

World Fisheries Day is celebrated every year on 21 November by fishing communities to highlight the importance of maintaining the world's fisheries.