Pretoria — Government will continue to support co-operatives as they are drivers of job creation, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
Davies was handing over 16 fishing boats to cooperatives in Lamberts Bay, Western Cape, on Thursday.
The whole West Coast Fishing Cluster initiative has been supported with more than R11 million through the Co-operatives Incentives Scheme of the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).
"Government has identified cooperatives as a driver 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.
The initiative forms part of the Regional Industrial Development Plan that seeks to create viable economic regional participation.
Davies said although fishing was not an easy job, it could improve the lives of many people and give more opportunities that could lead to other projects taking place.
Cederberg local municipality executive mayor, Jonas White, said the community of Lamberts Bay was used to fishing with unsafe equipment and boats and that this had gone on for too long.
"We welcome this initiative from government and will make the best of this opportunity handed to us to improve the working conditions for our fishermen and women," said White.
A member of the cooperative community, Nico Waldech, said the initiative was empowering to fishers.
"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 put people first," he said.
The department 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.