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Commercialization of South Africa’s subsistence fisheries? Considerations, criteria and approach
Arnason, R.; Kashorte, M. (2006). Commercialization of South Africa’s subsistence fisheries? Considerations, criteria and approach. IJOO 1(1): 45-65
In: International Journal of Oceans and Oceanography. Research India Publications: Delhi. ISSN 0973-2667, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Arnason, R.
  • Kashorte, M.

    The subsistence fishing sector in South Africa represents a significant economic activity employing almost 30.000 fishers and providing sustenance for well over 150.000 people. According to the current legislation, those licensed as subsistence fishers are not allowed to sell their harvest beyond 20 km from the place of landing. This restriction has at least two major effects: On the one hand, it serves to lower the average price for fish received by subsistence fishers and thus contributes to their continued poverty. On the other hand, by making subsistence fishing economically less attractive, it has reduced subsistence fishing effort and thus served to protect some coastal marine resources. This paper examines under what conditions it would be socially beneficial to allow subsistence fishers to trade freely, i.e. allow commercialization of subsistence fishing. It finds that there are clear economic benefits to commercialization, which could drastically improve the economics of the subsistence fishing communities. However, these benefits will not materialize unless subsistence fishing activities are guided by an effective fisheries management regime. Moreover, the benefits will not be reasonably shared unless the initial fishing rights are appropriately allocated and individual welfare protected by a strong social structure. The paper suggests that community fishing rights composed of a combination of territorial fishing rights and community quotas may constitute the appropriate basic arrangement to generate sustainable economic benefits that are distributed in a socially fair way. Although, written with the South African situation in mind, the main results of the paper appear to be applicable to other subsistence fisheries faced with commercialization.

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