Fisherwoman Carmelita Mostert, also with Coastal Links in Saldanha adds, “The fight for our environmental rights does not stop. Saldanha Bay has now been turned into an industrial hub at the cost of local fishermen and women.”
Another fisher from Knysna, Barend Fredricks says, “People want to return to their ancestral land to benefit from the natural resources. The government must not prevent us from doing so by introducing laws and regulations that are barriers to our customary rights.”
Andy Pienaar from Kobush, a community activist working with small-scale fishers in Northern Cape says, “We cannot afford to have oil and gas drilling or exploration. It will only lead to further violation of our natural resources and our environmental rights, and further destruction of our health and our well-being.” Lastly, Solene Smith a fisherwoman and also Coastal Links member adds that, as coastal communities they have always looked after the natural resources from the ocean by practising sustainable fishing to prevent overfishing and protect fragile ecosystems of the ocean, until government introduced legislations that affect them as fishers.
As we observe another World Fisheries Day, we call on government to recognise coastal communities and small-scale fishers as key stakeholders and custodians of the ocean who should be consulted in these matters, as it directly affects them. Small-scale fishing communities also demand a just transition energy plan, which will lead to the end of fossil fuels (and as such, no more offshore oil and gas drilling nor potentially harmful exploration activities).