Learner reflections on the responsible fisheries training

To date the RFA has trained more than 1650 fishers, observers and compliance officers in responsible fisheries practices. We spoke to three learners and asked them for feedback on the training they received during 2018:





Verushka Minnaar: 20 years’ fish processing experience, supervisor white fish processing

Verushka’s first thoughts were, after 20 years in the fishing industry what value would the responsible fishing training add to her knowledge at this stage of her career. The idea of having a two-day break from the office, however, changed her thinking. During the first day, Verushka’s heart raced with excitement as the lessons related directly to her work environment. After 20 years in the industry, wow, there was so much more to learn.  She always wondered how the whole ecosystem worked and thought, “Sea urchins, are they not a nuisance in the ocean, what value do they add?”. When she learnt that the sea urchin mainly feeds on algae on the coral and rocks, along with decomposing matter such as dead fish, mussels, sponges and barnacles, Verushka understood its role. Sea urchins are preyed upon by many predators that inhabit their marine environment. While some of the urchins might be poisonous, they are actually important to the sea life. The training highlighted how every species in the sea is dependent on each other, therefore, fishing in an uncontrolled manner could destroy the complete marine ecosystem. Verushka realised how important it was for everyone in the fishing sector to work together, as well as the importance of enforcing permit conditions. “It is everyone’s responsibly to ensure that they support the authorities in safeguarding the oceans. Should anyone see any wrongdoing, they should immediately report such incidents. In this way all of us can be part of the enforcement of good fishing practices”.


Delino Van Niekerk: 2 years sea experience, 1 year engine room cadet

During the 1st phase of Delino’s SAMSA theory training he heard much about making every effort to avoid pollution at sea and taking every precaution to ensure no harmful substances are discarded in the sea. Delino explained at this stage he wondered why such a fuss was being made. Surely the sea has its way of dealing with any substance that ends up in the sea; the sea has been around since the creation of the universe and has withstood many oil spills and bad incidents which he has heard of. He never understood the negative effects of such events until he attended the responsible fishing training. During the second day of the training he understood how substances like oil, plastic, netting, twine, wire, rags, paper and a simple cigarette butt can cause harm to marine life and birds. Delino then realised how important the SAMSA theory training was and how it all fits together. He explains that, although he knew the SAMSA training was compulsory, it was only when he attended the training that he experienced a “light bulb moment”. He was overwhelmed to hear of the albatross bird who only has one partner for life and that only one of the pair will look after their chicks, while the other goes in search of food and returns to feed the partner and chicks. The thought of the partner not returning, possibly hurt or even killed, will lead to the chick and partner waiting for food until they die of starvation. Delino says what he experienced over the two-day training should be considered compulsory training for everyone in the fishing industry.


Cleo-zeta Snayders, Viking Division at Sea Harvest Corporation

“I have found the RFA training course very interesting and learnt so much about the fishing industry. What stood out for me, was the discussion we had on sharks as well as the learner participation throughout the program and how well they understood the importance of fishing in our country. Things I have learnt included the role of DAFF; where fishing activities are restricted and reasons why; the importance of having permit conditions; what are tori lines and how it works; the role of the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative in ensuring sustainable fishing; the importance of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC); what an “ecosystems approach to fisheries management” means; and a detailed description of sharks, their likes and dislikes in the ocean and what they eat and do not eat, in contrast to humans. What I already knew was the effects of overfishing on the ecosystem and salary of fisherpersons and food webs and the effect of overfishing on a single species within the chain.”