Our Story - Coastal Livelihoods Foundation NPC

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Our Story

First demo site installation of vmsTRACK.
April 2012, Port Nollot, Northern Cape, South Africa.

About Us

Coastal Livelihood Foundation is a registered non-profit company (Reg. No. 2015/085686/08) concerned with the upliftment of small-scale fishing communities by promoting responsible and sustainable fisheries management systems that are community based and effective. Although its initial focus is on fishing and therefore coastal communities, the broader vision is to contribute towards the creation of a Sustainable Network Of Enterprising Communities [SNOEC].  

The Challenges

Small scale fishing communities face a number of challenges.

  • Many fishing communities are very remote and have no access to any form of emergency response at sea. Those that do, have no reliable means to contact would-be rescuers and no means to direct them accurately to their location.

  • Unsustainable resource harvesting, be it legally or illegally, has led to near-depletion of many fish stocks, and subsequent reduction in quotas.

  • Reduced quota allocation and other factors have led to on-going poaching in many fisheries by members of the local fishing community thereby increasing pressure on the resource.

  • Large scale, often international poaching syndicates further deplete the resource.

  • The new DAFF policy will allocate quotas to community fishing entities, not to individuals.

The Vision

Our vision is to promote a culture under which the citizens of a town will assume responsibility for the actions of its individual members, in order to ensure the continued existence of a prospering and peaceful community who depends mainly on fishing for its livelihood. This will also empower communities to obtain the maximum long-term benefit achievable with DAFF’s new community fishing policy. We believe this is possible because in our experience many community fishermen:

  • choose to live the life of fishing; often it is based on a proud family tradition of fishing,

  • are more innovative and adaptable to modern technology than they are given credit for,

  • will, if given the opportunity, take a long-term responsibility for their own actions on the water, including safety and the more economical and sustainable harvesting of the resource.

The Foundation’s entry point in a fishing community is to facilitate the installation of the proven vmsTRACK Fishermen Safety system. In order to effect the change of culture, we will train selected members of each community in the science and economics of sustainable fishing practices. The Foundation will provide resources and guide these and other community members through the actions needed to reach the stated vision, which will include but not be limited to:

  • Reach a state of mind where community members take responsibility for self and each other.

  • Communicate effectively with each-other, with government and with other role players.

  • Effectively organise a response to a vessel in distress.

  • Gather accurate catch and effort data from every fishing vessel for every voyage. The data is collected, analysed and made available to the community concerned, to be used jointly by government and the community to implement a system of iterative management that is constantly re-evaluated based on sound scientific evidence. It will also provide traceability.

  • Enable the community to develop a culture which considers poaching as socially unacceptable since it threatens the existence of the community.

  • Work with other institutions that share the same vision or offer applicable solutions.

Public Benefit Activities

The public benefit activities which Coastal Livelihoods Foundation NPC and its projects conduct in fishing communities are the following:

  • The rescue and care of persons in distress through the installation of a fishermen safety system in the fishing community. The fishermen safety system is used to prevent situations that would turn into a calamity at sea by taking action before the situation becomes dangerous. A good example of this is fishermen that go out to fish on the west coast and get caught in thick fog. In the past the fishermen would have to spend the time on the open ocean until the situation changed and they could come back to shore. In most instances the fishermen get disorientated or the vessel capsizes due to the weather conditions and people drown. The fishermen safety system allows the operator at the base station to guide the fishermen back when they are caught out in fog etc, and a situation that could be deadly is handled in a safe and effective manner. Thus lives are saved and people that are in distress are taken care of.

  • Conflict resolution and the promotion of mutual respect between various people in the fishing community. Coastal Livelihoods Foundation through the fishermen safety system brings a unique opportunity to the community to resolve their differences because the fishermen realize that irrespective of race, orientation or colour they are dependent on each other for their safety. In working together through the fishermen safety system they have to confront and address their problems with each other in order to make it work. Because of the fishermen safety system the fishermen tend to stop having a mindset of it is only about me and adopt an attitude of "It is about us". This we have witnessed firsthand in Hondeklip Bay. The community as a whole benefits from this positive attitude.

  • The promotion and protection of family stability by providing the necessary tools to enable the fishermen to return home to their families. The fishermen safety system helps to prevent dangerous situations when we address issues before they get out of hand. This ensures that the main provider in the home returns home after a day of fishing and will be able to go and fish again.

  • Community development through capacity building and empowerment. The base station operator is trained in the use of a computer and the internet in order to provide the fishermen with any relevant information with regards to weather predictions as well as wave heights. The operator is also trained to help the fishermen master basic computer skills and to assist in their needs with regards to electronic communication. The fishermen are trained in radio operating procedures according to the standards of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). They are then assessed by SAMSA surveyors and issued with a Radio Operators License which empowers them to use maritime radios as a means to communicate important information to each other and to the base station operator. This enables them to be safer on the water and have a reliable form of communication on the water. We also train the fishermen to understand the basics of a rescue situation through a simulated exercise. If there is a National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) base in the community we encourage the fishermen to volunteer with the NSRI and also include the NSRI in the simulated exercise.  Coastal Livelihoods Foundation aims to train the fishermen in basic business skills in order for them to better market their products and to increase the value they add to their products. We would like to see a sustainable network of enterprising communities along our coast line.

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