The fishing industry provides direct and indirect livelihoods for over 140 000 people in South Africa and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has identified 150 fishing communities. Industrial boats employ some 200 people for every 1 000 tons of fish caught, while small-scale fishing methods employ some 2 400 people for the same amount of fish. There are various means of managing the fishing industry, which operates in a common-pool resource. Small-scale fishers, however, live in poverty. The way in which the fishing industry is currently being managed, through the individual transferable quota system, has led to further problems for the small-scale fishers and the communities in which they live.
The aim of the study is provide a solution to the question of the best way to manage the fishing industry, for the benefit of small-scale fishers, while also ensuring sustainability in the fishing industry. The research will investigate three research questions, through literature review and data gathered from interviews with small-scale fishers. The research questions will investigate whether it is economically viable for small-scale fishers to continue to fish, whether small-scale fishers want to have a self-management system and what would be the best institutional model to manage the common-pool resource.
The research findings have found that there is not one best way to manage the common-pool resource. For communities to manage the common-pool resource themselves, it is critically important that trust exists in the communities. The research has furthermore confirmed recent literature that the individual transferable quota system can lead in many instances to social problems in a community