Fishing for Justice


Fishing for Justice: the Struggles of Durban’s fisherfolk from Pamela Ngwenya on Vimeo.

Title Fishing for Justice
Director(s) Pamela Ngwenya, Sinini Ngwenya
Date released (year) 2010
Production company Malinga Productions
Length 17.25 mins
Location Durban, South Africa
Keywords/tags Neoliberalism, privatisation,  protest
Link to film
Synopsis Short video documenting the voices of Durban’s   fisherfolk and conveying their plight. Presented by the Centre for Civil   Society.
Reviews/discussion From Amanda Dray’s 2009 thesis on   the same topic:

In today’s globalised world,   countries including South Africa, are pursuing neoliberal economic policies   which have many negative effects on ordinary citizens. One such effect is the   privatisation of public space which is an important resource for all   citizens. (…) the privatisation of public space along the Durban coast and   the subsequent loss of fishing sites for local subsistence fishers. (…) these   fishers are being excluded from using public resources along the coast and   thereby prevented from making a living. Most of the spaces that have been   privatised are being transformed into upmarket developments or used to   further trade through the expansion of the Durban Harbour. (…) In response,   the fishers have established the KwaZulu-Natal Subsistence Fishermen’s Forum   in order to mobilise against the broader processes of exclusion and   marginalisation resulting from neoliberal pro-growth development policies.   Their strategies include protest, deliberation with the state, and striking   alliances with other social movements in a broader process of   anti-globalisation struggle.


Links to other resources Dray, Amanda. (2009) The   politics of the privatisation of public space : the subsistence fishers of   Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, found at:

Bay of Plenty:

South Durban Community   Environmental Alliance:

BBC on privatising the oceans:

Stolen Fish


Title Earth   report: Stolen Fish
Director(s) TV/e
Date released (year) 2009
Production company TV/e
Length 11   mins
Location WEST   AFRICA
Keywords/tags Sustainability,   oceans, food, fishing
Link to film
Synopsis Illegal fishing is a multi million dollar   business and one of the most serious threats to global fish stocks. In a   2-part programme Earth Report reveals the pirate fishing trawlers illegally   plundering the seas off West Africa. In part one we visit local communities   devastated by the activities of pirate vessels and watch as one illegal   trawler is boarded and caught red-handed.


Reviews/discussion From the BBC:

“The problem of illegal fishing   is enormously widespread,” observes Michael Lodge, an OECD fisheries   expert.

“We have estimated the problem as being as much as 20% of the global   catch.”

Since 2000, the UN has been warning about the grave consequences of   overfishing in the world’s seas.

However, the impact of illegal fishing is adding to the strain on the already   overexploited oceans.

The skippers of the illegal fishing boats tend to favour the waters of some   of the poorest nations, which are often inadequately policed as a result of a   lack of resources.

The Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of West Africa, is one of the most fertile   fishing grounds in the world.

For centuries, the waters have supported generations of small coastal   communities, but as the world’s appetite for fish continues to grow, the rich   fishing grounds have attracted the attention of illegal vessels.
Many developing nations do not have funds to police their waters

Almost half of the boats in the area are estimated to be operating outside   the law.

Marine conservationist Helen Bours, who has been tracking illegal and   unlicensed boats for more than 20 years, says that it is a hidden world of   which very little is known.

“These vessels are at sea for years,” she tells Television Trust   for the Environment’s (TVE) Earth Report programme on the BBC World News   Channel.

“They transfer their fish on to other vessels, they get refuelled at sea;   even the crews are changed at sea.

“So nobody sees what’s happening, and there’s nobody to go there and   tell them to respect the rules. It’s another world.”

Fisheries experts from the UK government have attempted in recent years to   assess the scale of the problem.

“In 2005, we commissioned a major study of the impact of illegal fishing   on developing nations,” said Tim Bostock, a fisheries advisor for the   UK’s Department for International Development.

“We were able to derive a total figure for the value of fish stolen from   the world each year. This figure was of the order of US $9bn (£6.3bn).

Taking stock

Two inspectors from Guinea, during an expedition organised by Greenpeace and   the Environmental Justice Foundation, headed out to sea with a list of the   vessels authorised to fish the nation’s waters.
Local fishermen say illegal fishing is threatening their way of life

From the air, a group of Chinese trawlers was spotted and after a quick check   it was found that one of the vessels was not licensed.

“This vessel is under arrest for fishing without a licence in Guinean   waters,” explained Helen Bours.

“They never expect a surveillance patrol to come that far from shore   because they know the Guinean authorities don’t normally have the means to   come out this far.”

During the month-long expedition, about half of the 92 vessels spotted in the   region were found to be fishing illegally.

Many of the unlicensed boats use huge weighted nets with a very fine mesh.   These are scraped along the sea bed, scooping up everything in their path.

This method catches a very large amount of juvenile fish, wiping out the   chance of these creatures reaching sexual maturity and spawning future   generations to replenish the fish stocks.

Not only is the problem threatening the long-term economic opportunities for   the region, it is depriving the population of a very valuable source of   protein.

“It’s stealing the fish, killing people and endangering the marine   environment and the fish stocks; not just here but all over the world,”   said Ms Bours.

The precise figure for the number of vessels fishing illegally is unknown,   but officials are worried that the size of the unlawful fishermen greatly   exceeds most national fishing fleets.

“China is the largest fisher in the world, and the illegal fishers would   come second,” says Joe Borg, the EU fisheries commissioner.

“So we are speaking of fishing carried out legally by bodies like the   EU, Chile and Peru being outranked by illegal fishing.

“We are speaking of a very, very big problem.”


From Greenpeace:

According to the United Nations, over 75 percent of the world’s   fisheries are fully exploited, over exploited or significantly depleted. Some   species have already been fished to commercial extinction; many more are on   the verge.

West African nations have some of the richest fishing grounds in   the world; yet their food security is under threat. European and Asian   fishing fleets have moved into West African waters over the past 30 years   after depleting their own fish stocks. Sub-Saharan Africa is now the only   region on Earth where per capita fish consumption is actually falling, partly   because foreign fishing fleets have removed so much fish.


Links to other resources Greenpeace   Africa, Defending Our Oceans:

The   Global Issues Affecting the World Fish Stocks;

Europe’s   Fleets ‘waste’ Africa’s Fish: