Previously disadvantaged communities can no longer continue to be mere spectators in the ocean economy, Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane said.
He was speaking on the last day of a Fisheries Indaba at the ETC Conference Centre in Port Elizabeth.
“We cannot be a province that is a spectator in this theatre,” Qoboshiyane said.
“From what I heard from delegates this is the economy that needs to come back to the majority of citizens of this province,” he said.
Delegates included smallscale fishermen from as far as East London, Kei Mouth, Butterworth, Kouga and Humansdorp.
The indaba was organised by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to create a platform for Deputy Minister Bheki Cele and relevant authorities in the province to engage with fishermen to identify and resolve challenges they face.
Qoboshiyane said white and black people should come together.
“Things must change. This is a serious agenda and I think we are given power in our own hands to reshape and remodel how this ocean economy must respond,” he said.
Cele said the purpose of the workshop was to hear the plight and challenges faced by communities.
“I am really disappointed with the owners of big businesses. They saw fit not to be with us here today,” he said.
“This arrogance they have is perhaps that the government has no teeth. The government will learn to have teeth and bite.
“There are issues we needed to discuss with them. For now they lead, but a time will come when we will lead.”