The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies says the government is still committed to supporting cooperatives in all forms. Minister Davies was addressing the community of Lamberts Bay in the Western Cape earlier today at a ceremony where the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) was handing over sixteen fishing boats to cooperatives. The whole West Coast Fishing Cluster initiative has been supported with more than R11 million through the Cooperatives Incentives Scheme of the dti.
The initiation forms part of the Regional Industrial Development Plan that seeks to create viable economic regional participation.
"Government has identified cooperatives as a drive for job creation and it has shown that more than 650 jobs will be created from the fishing cluster initiative, and that with more activities around the fishing community 2 000 jobs can emanate from this drive," said Davies.
He encouraged cooperatives to form clusters and make themselves more effective in their sectors.
"Fishing its not an easy job, but it can improve the lives of many people and give more opportunities that can lead to other projects taking place in the area," added Davies.
The Executive Mayor of Cederberg Local Municipality Mr Jonas White said the community of Lamberts Bay were used to fishing with unsafe equipment and boats and that this has gone on for far too long.
"We welcome this initiative from government and will make the best of this opportunity handed to us to improve the working condition of our fishermen and women," said White.
Mr Nico Waldech, a member of the cooperative community said this was a remarkable day in the lives of fishers and others along the west coast.
"This is not only empowerment, but a healing process for all of us. This says we as fishermen can continue with our livelihood and that government is putting corrective measures in place to correct the past and putting people first," said Waldech.
The dti has been involved in facilitating the commercialisation of small-scale fisheries through a Cluster Development Programme to enhance the economic activity of the small industries along the strategic value chain in the Western Cape since 2010.