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Loan boost for NC fisheries co-operative

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Without the support received from the fund, fishermen would not have been able to go out to sea to support their families

Dr Mark Botha, CEO of the South African Fisheries Development Fund, with Walter Steenkamp, chairperson of the Aukotowa Primary Fisheries Co-operative. Picture: Supplied

THE AUKOTOWA Primary Fisheries Co-operative in Port Nolloth will be able to conduct a critical safety survey on three of its vessels and repair three others in order to continue operating, after it was able to purchase equipment with an interest-free loan from the South African Fisheries Development Fund.

In terms of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa), vessels need to undergo an annual survey. The vessel survey includes compliance with up-to-date safety equipment such as flares.

The co-operative consists of traditional fisherfolk who have grouped together to improve their economic welfare through their collective efforts.

Walter Steenkamp, chairperson of the Aukotowa Primary Fisheries Co-operative, said on Wednesday that without the support received from the fund they would not have been able to go out to sea to support their families.

“With the support of the fund we could purchase all the equipment needed to achieve the requirements of Samsa’s safety standards. Port Nolloth is a rural community and experiences extreme hardship, so we are truly thankful to the organisations that have made this fund possible,” Steenkamp said.

Fund CEO Mark Botha added that the equipment meant that the co-operative would have a larger fleet of vessels to harvest its 2020/21 West Coast rock lobster (WCRL) quota allocation.

“The equipment included various items, such as small boat kits, fog horns, smoke flares, space blankets, resin and hardener, fibreglass mat rolls, boat oars, etc.”

The South African Fisheries Development Fund was established in 2018 to help drive business growth and financial wellness for small-scale fishers; small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs); and small-scale co-operatives within the local fishing industry. Its mandate is to contribute towards the economic advancement of fishers in local fishing communities.