News & Events

Our Voices Feature : Small-scale fisherwomen lead

Lisa Makaula

Camelita Mostert, a small-scale fisher from Saldanah Bay

The Green Connection has been engaging with small-scale fishers on the west coast who will potentially be directly affected by the current developments in the ocean most specifically oil and gas drilling. A member of Coastal Links Camelita Mostert is a small-scale fisher from Saldanah Bay and has been in the fishing industry her whole life. She is one of few woman who owns a boat and able to employ people in her community. She seeks equality for small-scale fishers and the same treatment afforded to commercial fishers and other major industries. Camelita emphatically expressed that fishing is in her blood. She was spurred on to fight for the rights of small-scale fishers as her family would be served with hefty fines every 3 days from law enforcement for exceeding fishing limits and their fish and gear would be confiscated.

Small-scale fishers have been in dire straits as they need permits and their identity documents to fish in the area. Small-scale fishers were given interim relief permits however, the 10-years-experience criterion for these permits limits the entry of youth thus many do not qualify to receive permits. These small-scale fishers sell in local communities to alleviate poverty & they sometimes sell on credit. A concern for the fishing community is that the fishing industry would die if oil spills occur given that oil and gas drilling has began in South African oceans. As much as there are MPA’s (marine protected areas) she believes that fishers can protect the oceans. Fishing methods employed by small-scale fishers such as line fishing are less destructive compared to other large scale fishing methods. The reason she fights is that women push for what they want and do not go back until the end goal is reached.

A message from Camelita Mostert to women is “Do not let domestic violence keep you on the ground.” In addition, a message to the youth & women in the fishing industry is “Go strong, forward and do your thing and if you like fishing be patient and have love for it.”