24 February 2009

Give a man a fish

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."

So runs a trite cliche that is often repeated, usually by people who favour capitalism, and yet it overlooks one of the fundamental realities of the capitalist system: most of the fish ponds have signs saying "Private property: no fishing".

And that seems to be becoming true of sea fisheries as well.

ENVIRONMENT: Fighting for the Right to Fish:
Subsistence fishers were hoping that a new government policy, the Draft Policy for the Allocation and Management of Medium-Term Subsistence Fishing Rights, would address their plight.

A task team representing subsistence fishers, which was appointed by South African environmental minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk in 2007, were involved in developing the policy. But the draft policy released in December 2008 has been rejected by the task team.

The deal breaker was that the policy says allocation of fishing rights to subsistence fishers is a challenge in that marine resources have already been allocated to commercial fisheries.

In this case, government and big business have colluded once again to deprive people of a livelihood.

But perhaps the story can make us think twice about glibly trotting out the slogan about "Give a man a fish..." It's rarely that simple.

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