Alternative Seafood Marketing in a Small-Scale Fishery: Barriers and Opportunities in South Africa’s Southern Cape Commercial Linefishery
Faced with competition from large-scale fisheries and other pressures, many small-scale fisheries are looking to ‘alternative’ seafood marketing options to enhance livelihoods. Based on the findings of participant observation and action research, we discuss opportunities and challenges associated with an attempt to create a novel brand and alternative seafood marketing scheme with small-scale handline fishers in the southern Cape region of South Africa. The work focussed on collective action to create a seafood branding scheme distinguishing fish caught using traditional small-scale, low-impact linefishing methods from commercially trawled fish. After a failed start to the scheme on the quayside owing to pressure from fish-buying middlemen representing inshore trawling companies, the linefishers adapted their approach, supplying a more upmarket seafood store away from the harbour opened by one of their number. Initially, the linefishers and store owner wanted to differentiate their catch from trawled fish by only offering linefish in the store. However, consumer demand for, and attitudes towards, certain seafood products and species ultimately compelled the store to incorporate seafood products sourced from the trawling companies via the middlemen, in its offering. The research findings indicate that collective action is of potential value to linefishers. However, in the southern Cape, inshore trawling companies and their affiliated middlemen continue to exert influence over how commercial linefishers can market and sell their catch via a relationship of interdependence. This relationship will have to be carefully negotiated if future collective linefish branding and sales in the region are to succeed.
Duggan, GL; Jarre, A; Murray, G
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