n many of the small communities of South Africa's West Coast, the economic driver has traditionally been the fishing industry. Employment opportunities were largely located either on board the vessels or in a fish-processing factory which in some smaller centres was a monopsonistic employer. The last two decades have seen this system under threat. Fish stocks have declined and fish populations have move southward, while the fishing industry has been restructured to meet BEE imperatives, meaning that old established firms found their quotas even further decreased. To cut costs, fishing companies shed jobs and in extreme cases shut down their smaller operations. As they left the smaller centres they took with them their managerial skills, as well as capital and employment. The fishermen and women in these towns, have found it difficult to fill the vacuum, lacking as they do, organisation, access to credit, administrative and marketing skills, and above all critical information related to the process of issuing fishing rights (Isaacs, 2006, 57), (Amason & Kashorte, 2006, 48). The decline of the West Coast fisheries was latterly accompanied by the extension of the permit process; access to the resource being restructured initially in a 'medium term' and then in a long term rights application process. Those fishermen who were unsuccessful in acquiring access rights were trapped in a cycle of poverty and increasingly forced to fish illegally or 'poach' to survive. The decline of the stock means that there are no simple answers to the problem, I argue however, that it would be beneficial for the South African Government to embark on a co-management programme with these fishing communities.