QurbanARouhani bFrom colonial objectives to constitutional imperatives

In February of 2022, the South Africa National Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment gazetted the national inland fisheries policy. This marks the first time in South Africa’s history, that inland small-scale and traditional fishers are recognised within the legislative framework. Until now, South Africa’s inland fisheries has been dominated by recreational fisheries, a product of colonial priorities. In this presentation, we explore how colonial policies shaped inland fisheries and the transition to a democratic sector that is now aligned to the constitution of the country.


Qurban A. Rouhani is the Director of the Rural Fisheries Programme, a developmental unit within the Department of the Ichthyology and Fisheries Science of Rhodes University (South Africa). His interest is in the democratisation of inland fisheries. Mr. Rouhani has contributed to the development of the draft national inland fisheries policy, and works closely with government, civil society and small-scale fisheries to ensure that the policy is aligned to national developmental objectives and the inalienable constitutional rights of both small-scale and traditional fishers.

In his fascinating talk he blends perspectives of the colonial past and its highly discriminative mindsets with information and examples from today's democratic South Africa. He illustrates how difficult it is to shed the colonial legacy and fill the progressive constitution and recently adopted legislation with life. Rouhani lets us see the difficulties to reconstruct what were the local inland small-scale fisheries of pre-colonial times, even though there is some evidence from rock paintings and modern day gear use and fishing techniques very similar to that in neighbouring countries.

The prevalence of preferences by white South Africans for lucrative inland recreational fisheries based on introduced species and branding any rural food fisheries as pouching is still strong and prevents the application of the principles of the constitution and existing legislation.

To follow the inspiring meanders of this presentation walking us through a wide range of sources of evidence, click on the zoom link to also get the Q&A session. This was the (29) July 2022 webinar of the V2V Project decidated to research on Small-scale Fisheries from Vulnerability to Viability.