The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries will be distributing more than 10 000 food parcels to distressed small-scale and interim relief fishers across the country, Minister Barbara Creecy has said.
This is in partnership with voluntary organisation FishSA, major fishing corporations and the SA Fishing Development Fund.
To date, 1 500 parcels have been distributed to assist fishers in the Overberg Region and Southern Cape.
The distribution drive continues and from Monday, 4 May 2020, registered small-scale farmers in the Cape Town Metro, West Coast and Northern Cape will benefit.
The initiative will then move to the Eastern Cape and Kwa Zulu-Natal on the week of 11 May,2020.
“The generosity of FishSA, the SA Fishing Development Fund as well as several large scale commercial fishing companies have made this possible and I want to thank them for taking the initiative to help thousands of families in distress”, said Creecy.
Throughout the lockdown, the department has implemented various measures to support the fishing industry:
The minister said the department’s work in the sector continues to play a significant role in addressing the basic needs of the country during the lockdown.
South Africa was placed under lockdown at the end of March 2020, triggering a nationwide economic fallout which had already been considered vulnerable. Local fishers are just some of the casualties of the pandemic – and bear the brunt of the shutdown.
China, which is said to be the birthplace of the respiratory disease, went on lockdown in February and thus, couldn’t import any seafood from the coast.
“I’m struggling to pay my rent, pay my power (electricity), nothing for food on the table for the children”, a Cape Town fisherman told the BBC.
The coronavirus has almost entirely wiped out the global economy – with millions of jobs lost in a matter of months and businesses forced to shut down. There are even concerns that many of the companies will fail to take off post-COVID-19.
The recreational fishing industry employs close to 100 000 jobs and generates approximately R36 billion a year