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Can small-scale fisheries contribute to poverty alleviation in traditionally non-fishing communities in South Africa?

TG Andrew
QA Rouhani
SJ Seti


There has been considerable debate as to the contribution that fishing activities can make to food security and income generation in rural areas of South Africa where fishing has not traditionally been practised. The rural areas in the eastern half of the Eastern Cape Province which are inhabited primarily by Xhosa people have generally been considered as areas where fishing activities have not formed a part of history. There have been no studies reporting on successful small-scale fisheries implementation from this province, which has added weight to the perception that Xhosa cultural belief and preferences are sufficiently strong to render the capture and consumption of fish an unattractive alternative. Investigation of perceptions among rural Xhosa people indicated that cultural avoidance of freshwater fish was not universal and where these customary beliefs did exist, they were often not strong enough to negatively effect a process of fisheries development. This paper presents evidence from a case study in the Fish River Valley which clearly shows that people are willing to catch, eat and sell fish from dams and rivers in the area. In addition, analysis of cash flows within this newly established fishery indicates that fishing activities bring significant income into the study area. People see small-scale fisheries as a viable alternative to more common forms of food procurement and natural resource use. The results from this study emphasise the role that under-utilised freshwater fish resources can play in the development of South Africa's marginalised rural areas.

Keywords: small-scale fisheries; freshwater fish; rural; Eastern Cape; poverty alleviation

(Afr J Aqua Sci: 2000 25: 49-55)

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9364
print ISSN: 1608-5914