SAMUDRA Report

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Issue No:62
  • :0973-1121
  • :July
  • :2012
  • :English

 It is a fabulous place: when the tide is in, a wave-churned basin,
creamy with foam, whipped by the combers that roll in from the
whistling buouy on the reef. But when the tide goes out the little
world becomes quiet and lovely. The sea is very clear and the bottom
becomes fantastic with hurrying, fighting, feeding, breeding animals.

—from Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

 

Securing Rights

Policies and legislation need to be put in place to secure the rights of fishing communities to their territories


In South Africa, on 22 May 2012—International Day for Biological Diversity—three members of a traditional fishing community who had been charged with the intention to fish within the Dwesa-Cwebe marine protected area (MPA) were found guilty by a magistrate (see article on page 4). The fishers had argued that they have a customary right to fish in the MPA as it comprised their ancestral lands. The magistrate noted the protection provided by the South African Constitution to the freedom and rights to land and unrestricted practice of their customs by ordinary citizens. However, as it was not within his powers as a magistrate to pass judgment on the constitutional validity of the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA), under which the MPA was declared, he ruled the fishermen guilty, noting, however, that the constitutional validity of the MLRA was highly debatable.

The fishers will now challenge the MLRA in the High Court on the basis that as traditional fishers with a customary system of law they have a constitutionally protected customary right to access the marine resource in question.

In Indonesia, on 16 June 2011 the Constitutional Court...

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