A just transition? Navigating the process of policy implementation in small-scale fisheries in South Africa

By One Ocean Hub Author M. Sowman (et al)

“The development and implementation of a new small-scale fisheries policy in South Africa has been a protracted and convoluted process. Following a participatory policy formulation process, founded on human-rights principles and a commitment to a community-based approach to governance, implementation planning and policy-roll-out have deviated from these foundational principles leading to thousands of fishers being left out of the process and the persistence of state-centric management. Drawing on the fisheries governance and policy implementation literature, the paper systematically analyses the transition from the small-scale policy formulation process to implementation and highlights the governance processes and other factors that have resulted in a mismatch between policy rhetoric and implementation practices. Key factors that have contributed to this policy disjuncture include a lack of ongoing engagement and collaboration with stakeholders, adopting a one-size fits all approach, inappropriate legal mechanisms to operationalise the policy, issuing of individual permits in the interim period, shifting political agendas, changing socio-economic factors at national and local level, lack of resources and capacity to implement policy objectives, implementation delays and lack of clarity regarding implementation agencies. Insights from this analysis in relation to policy implementation theory and empirical studies are discussed. The paper concludes with proposals for addressing the mismatches…”

Photo: Eric Nathan