Marine and Coastal Management on current activities and future plans

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

01 March 2010
Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Marine and Coastal Management Branch made a presentation to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Portfolio Committee regarding their current activities and future plans, outlined general facts about South Africa and the state of its coastlines with regard to its fisheries and general marina situation. The report highlighted issues of jurisdiction, understaffed departments and the amount of strain maritime resources are under and the necessity of improving coastal protection. 

The Department of Environmental Affairs presented a report outlining areas of responsibility of itself and the MCM. This report could not be presented as a final version, because its contents were subject to change as internal matters were yet to be finalised between MCM and the Department of Environmental Affairs over certain issues.

Discussions centered on Members seeking clarification on whether foreign vessels operating in South African waters were levied and for what the proceeds of those levies were used. They sought clarity on allegations made against the Department of Environmental Affairs of mismanagement, corruption and misappropriation of funds. Fishing rights were discussed along with the need for greater opportunity for previously disadvantaged fisherman and how to transform the formerly white dominated industry. Discussions over where and how compliance by fishers was enforced was also discussed with the MCM answering the bulk of the questions posed by Members due to its more comprehensive report.

Meeting report


Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) briefing
Mr André Share, Chief Director: Marine Resource Management, MCM, highlighted the fact that marine and coastal resources are under severe pressure due to the activities of irresponsible individuals and over fishing in parts. It showed that 60% of the South African populace inhabited coastal regions. Due to the impact of overexploitation of marine life across the globe and South Africa’s own declining and migrating stock, serious socio-economic implications are expected for people who make their living off fishing.

The MCM presented graphs showing the extent of the migrating stock problem in South Africa where Hake, Pilchard and Sardine numbers have steadily been declining. The West Coast Rock Lobster was used as an example of problems posed by migration and over fishing. According to the MCM, Abalone in South Africa is severely depleted and as a result, wild harvesting has been stopped.

The MCM then outlined the delineation of responsibility within its office of the Deputy Director General. This includes several Chief Directorates focusing on Research (Antarctica and islands), Integrated Coastal Management, Monitoring Control and Surveillance and Strategic Support Management. Each Directorate’s mandates, staff numbers per unit and successes and achievements were highlighted.

T he Department of Environmental Affairs’ presentation was not presented in full and was presented as work in progress. Members were advised by the Chairperson to focus mainly on the MCM report when asking questions.

Ms M Mabuza (ANC) asked whether fisheries were an environmental issue or a food issue and sought the full information on achievement and restructuring of the MCM.

Mr Share said that fisheries were an environmental issue but stated that it did have an impact on the food sector. He also said that the full achievements and restructuring of the MCM was evident in the presentation depending on what the focus is with regard to the separate directorates and their mandates. One major achievement in the area of fisheries was an increase in the time period fishing rights were allocated to fishers from one year, to two and three years.  This allowed more fishing to be done and for subsistence fishers to catch as much bounty as possible to provide for their families.

Mr S Abram (ANC) said that in his opinion the split between Environmental Affairs and MCM was a recipe for disaster and would not work. Also poor people were not being catered to enough by the MCM and delineation of responsibility did not translate to a direct intervention on behalf of the previously disadvantaged. He asked why the poor were excessively taxed and levied for fishing. He asked about reports of impropriety in the Department of Environmental Affairs and if there was any truth to the accusations.

The Chairperson commented that 95% of the economy was in the hands of white people and government had a responsibility to fix that and ensure wealth was shared and not controlled by a white minority.

Ms N Phaliso (ANC) asked whether there were alternative opportunities for previously disadvantaged fishers, considering their lack of sufficient resources and obvious limitations. She believed that fisheries should be under the Environmental Affairs Department.

Mr Share said that the poor were not sufficiently protected under the current legislation and that they were not being assisted sufficiently. There had been achievements in getting poor people more involved in the industry however, saying that 59% of the fishing industry was under transformed ownership. The MCM was pushing the transformation agenda hard to assist previously disadvantaged people.

Ms Joanne Yawitch, Deputy Director General for Environmental Affairs said unknown people had made allegations of impropriety. This had been raised by the Deputy Director General and Director General who presented themselves to the Auditor General, for an audit and had been found free of corruption. Allegations of nepotism and mismanagement had been investigated but found to have no substance. An independent audit of the department’s books had been conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers and found there to be no impropriety. 

Mr L Bosman (DA) asked whether fishing rights levied would be investigated and reflected in MCM financial reports

Mr Share said that they would be investigated and duly reflected.

Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) asked whether foreign vessels operating in South African waters were levied to assist with financing MCM.

Mr Share said that foreign ships were indeed levied and the proceeds were used for various things including assisting MCM with its work.

Ms Carter (COPE) asked whether MCM had enough vessels and resources to respond to the impending crisis of over fishing and operators working without license and authority.

Ms Susan Leseke, Chief Director, Environmental Affairs said that there was a problem of understaffing and not enough resources within the department but that more would be done to buy more patrol boats and hire more personnel once the appropriation of funds was complete to increase capacity and capability in detecting illegal operators. She highlighted this problem by stating that in some cases one station had to cover a radius of 17km, which was near impossible. She said that Illegal Unregistered and Unreported (IUU) activities would be dealt with when detected.

The meeting was adjourned.



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