Meeting SummaryThe Committee received feedback that the SAS Africana vessel that was supposed to set sail on Thursday the week before as indicated by the Navy was in dock at the harbour. Some Members were very disappointed with the Navy on not delivering on their word but were eventually persuaded by other Members to accept the situation for whatever reason. The Department was requested to provide an alternative plan.
DAFF continued with its presentation on the fishing rights allocation process by reporting on the Stock Recovery Strategy for Hake, Abalone, West Coast Rock Lobster and South Coast Rock Lobster. Overall, the Department said that the hake had recovered more rapidly than expected and might achieve the target by 2014 as opposed to the target date of 2016. The West Coast recovery was taking place according to the modest plan. The South Coast Rock Lobster resource recovery was on track to meet the 2015 target. Abalone resource recovery was not meeting the targeted recovery levels. Progress with stock recovery of all stocks was affected by a range of factors outside of setting sustainable Total Allowable Catches (TACs), including illegal fishing and environmental disruptions. For abalone, for example, illegal fishing was several times the TAC and continued to depress stock recovery. Unless illegal fishing was addressed, the stock would not recover. The demand for abalone far exceeded the supply and its extremely high value continued to drive illegal fishing.
Poaching was discussed at length, as the Department explained that the problem was much bigger because it linked to international syndicates and to the drug trade and other crime. The Committee urged the Department to move on this issue as the assets of the country were at stake. The Department indicated that it had made progress as a prominent figure of the trade was currently in court and would be sentenced. The green court in Khayelitsha had also been reinstated which had a more serious outlook on environmental crime.
Overall, the Committee was not at all happy with the inclusion of historically disadvantaged people and communities into the rights allocation process. The poor coastal communities were said to be sinking deeper into poverty as the rights were taken away from them and the Committee felt that preference was given to the big commercial entities. Some Members spoke passionately about the need for redress in the poor coastal communities as the livelihoods of the people and their lives depended on their fishing rights.
The Department was asked to come up with a model to create employment in the poor communities to allow them to participate in the commercial fishing and also to develop aquaculture to address problems of poverty.
Ms N Twala (ANC)opened the meeting as Mr M Johnson (ANC), Chairperson, was in another meeting that would finish only later. The day's meeting would continue from the week before.
Members of the Committee were informed by the Department that the vessel SAS Africana, which the Navy had told them would set sail on 08 November was in fact still docking at the harbour due to technical difficulties.
Mr L van Dalen (DA) said that the Navy had promised something but had not delivered and asked if there was a plan B on what needed to be done.
Ms N Phaliso (ANC) said that if the Members needed a debate on the matter they needed to make a request in the House.
Mr B Bhanga (COPE) said that the Committee should not fight on political positions but focus on the issue and the practical side of it. He referred to the fact that the Navy did indicate the week before that the Africana would sail by Thursday and it had not happened. He said the response was not adequate.
Mr S Abram (ANC) advised the Committee to accept that the Africana had not been able to set sail and that the Department must come up with plan B.
Mr L Gaehler (UDM) agreed with Mr Abram and said that Members' expectations had been raised when they visited Simonstown and then the Navy also raised expectations when it made a presentation to the Committee. He asked the Department to act on what was best for the sake of the fisheries industry.
DAFF Stock Recovery Strategy for Hake, Abalone, West Coast Rock Lobster and South Coast Rock Lobster presentation
Dr Kim Prochazka, DAFF Acting Chief Director: Research - Branch Fisheries, reported on the Stock Recovery Strategy for Hake, Abalone, West Coast Rock Lobster and South Coast Rock Lobster.
Fish stocks fluctuated naturally and total allowable catches (TACs) were aimed at attaining maximum sustainable yields (MSY) levels within this fluctuations. To ensure sustainability, stocks were surveyed and assessed annually and operations management procedures (OMPs)) were developed that took into account abundance and fluctuations. Overall stock had not recovered and continue to decline. The TAC was shared amongst the current right holders so that each right holder got a fixed percentage of the TAC throughout the duration of the right. To help the recovery of the deep water hake, faster than the plan which had been implemented since 2007, it had been necessary to satisfy the Marine Stewardship Council of the hake industry’s commitment to stock recovery. It had therefore been necessary to assure re-certification of South African hake by the Marine Stewardship Council. The recovery plan aimed to recover the biomass of the female fish to 23% of the estimated pre-fished biomass by 2016. This target had been estimated as the abundance which provided the maximum sustainable yield for the resource.
For the West Coast rock lobster, the recovery plan aims to recover the biomass of males greater than 75mm carapace length to 20% above the 2006 level by 2016, to bring it to 4.1% of the estimated pre-fished biomass. The target was well below internationally accepted limit reference points, below which risk to the stock was deemed acceptably high. It was even further below target reference points typically around 40% where maximum yield was most likely to be achieved. The plan was very modest and attempting a faster recovery would have necessitated undesirably heavy decreases in the TAC. The South Coast rock lobster recovery plan aimed to increase spawning biomass by 20% above 20% above the 2006 level estimated at 36% by 2015. The resource was well above internationally recognised limit reference points, but it was desired to be moved to a higher level in order to achieve maximum economic yield from the resource.
In relation to abalone, the recovery plan targeted only Zones A and B. Zones C and D were considered unsuitable to allow recovery of abalone because of the incursion of West Coast rock lobsters into the area, making it unfavourable for abalone. In Zones E,F & G, (West Coast) the resource did not need rebuilding.
Overall, the hake had recovered more rapidly than expected and might achieve the target by 2014 as opposed to the target date of 2016. The West Coast Recovery was taking place according to the modest plan. The South Coast Rock Lobster resource recovery was on track to meet the 2015 target. Abalone resource recovery was not meeting the targeted recovery levels. Progress with stock recovery of all stocks was affected by a range of factors outside of setting sustainable TACs, including illegal fishing and environmental disruptions. For abalone, for example, illegal fishing was several times the TAC and continued to depress stock recovery. Unless illegal fishing was addressed, the stock would not recover. The demand for abalone far exceeded the supply and its extremely high value continued to drive illegal fishing.
(See slides 24-34)
Mr Abram said that it was naturally a pleasure to listen to scientists and their projections. But the statements that Zones C and D were unsuitable for abalone recovery due to the incursion of the West Coast Rock lobster worried him. He asked if South Africa was winning the war against poaching as, to his mind, some of the crime was committed by those who were meant to protect the resource. He asked if the law was powerful enough as a deterrent.
Dr Prochazka explained that the reason why Zone C and D were unsuitable for recovery was due to the fact that rock lobster preyed on sea urchins which were crucial to the survival of the baby abalones because they could hide underneath them.
Mr Abram asked, in terms of abalone poaching, how far the country was from driving out the abalone; there was not a one size fits all answer. Abalone was basically extinct in zones C and D. Zones A and B were still marginally small but it was a bit above the point which gave serious concern about collapse and hence the desire to rebuild.
Mr Ceba Mtoba, DAFF Chief Director: Monitoring Control and Surveillance, added that abalone poaching was linked to international crime, such as rhino poaching and the drug trade, for example. Tik was linked to abalone poaching, hence the reduction of abalone poaching would lead to reduction of the tik flow. The Department had an incorporated fisheries security strategy which included the work of the special unit in the Department to fight all illegal activities, which operated under the Monitoring, Controlling and Surveillance Directorate. The Department also worked hand in hand with other stakeholders such as the Police Department and the Defence force, where there were programme that ran annually.
The other driver for abalone poaching was poverty. The Department had taken a decision to close abalone harvesting in certain part of the country as the stock was depleted but, in the process, it created poachers. The Department’s response was driven by science and if science said that it was time to close a certain area, then it was done. But the Department had seen the impact of such decisions and was increasingly thinking of doing economic impact into such decisions.
Mr Abram asked how reliable the figures were, given that determining the TACs took into account the situation in the waters and it was very hard to do that. He asked what the percentage of error was in the figures given.
Dr Prochazka explained that there was a margin of error and if there was a big circle of information then the statistics could be trusted. There was a system of strong peer review in all of the mechanisms and everything was discussed at length amongst the scientists. There was an international review panel of three to four top notch scientists from fisheries science. They criticised the scientists' work and give feedback that helped keep the Department on track. There were peer review meetings during the year and the next one would be on 23-24 November and the Committee was invited to attend. She would send the information through to the secretary.
The model was being applied for the first time so the length of time to predict figures was yet to be determined. It was not possible to compare it and it would be monitored on an annual basis.
Mr Abram asked the Department where models of empowerment would be found and what else could be done to get coastal communities to understand the value of protecting the shorelines and protecting resources so that future generations would be able to enjoy them. He was not seeing awareness being raised for citizens to be vigilant and not complicit in poaching. He asked the Department to tell Members about its plans to create awareness in coastal poor communities.
The Department explained that mobilising the community to fight poaching boiled down to what would drive the communities to help the Department. The Department needed to look at how coastal communities in commercial fishing areas could get some form of benefit. There was a need to look at the legislation and it would become an incentive in involving the community.
Mr Abram said that he had looked at the amount poached in 2011 and 2012 given by the Department and had seen the models created for the pre-fished levels and it was higher than previously calculated. He calculated that, at the current rates, the stock should have been depleted. He asked how far South Africa was from depleting abalone.
Ms M Pilusa-Mosoane (ANC) asked what should be done to stop the poaching, and if a law or policy was needed.
She referred to page 29 of the presentation where it said that it was too soon to compare predictions with reality. She asked when the prediction could be made if it was too soon.
Mr Phaliso asked whose TACs would be reduced if there was a need for reduction, if everyone was treated equally. She said that the scientific presentation had given her the green light to query on behalf of those depending on the coastlines. She asked why there was not a plan for the species that were not on the list of the Department. She asked how the Department should go forth with alternative species.
Some observers from the coastal communities called out in agreement with Ms Phaliso who spoke passionately in advocating for the rights of the coastal communities and the poor.
The Department responded that there was a project being driven by a research group to look at species like the white mussel and tuna, and conduct a study to ensure that the implementation policies provided support in funding, training and infrastructure development.
The Department said that the Marine Living Resources Act (No. 18 of 1998) (MLRA) made provision for protection of species not destined for commercial harvesting. There was a measure through commercial fisheries to control harvest limits. The catch limit prevented right holders taking the by-catch to make up for the shortage. Precautionary catch limits had been set.
Ms Phaliso asked about boat landing facilities, and said that most communities did not have jetties; she was from a community without a jetty as it was washed away by the sea. The infrastructure was also aging. She asked the Department what plans it had in place for improving infrastructure with a view to new allocations.
The Department explained that, in the past, right holders were allowed to land only in proclaimed fishing harbours, but the policy had been amended to allow small scale fishers to land at various landing sites and it was aware of developments in Hout Bay and Kalk Bay and other places.
Ms Phaliso asked the Department about the support structure for small quota holders and small right holders, and small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) subsistence fishing; if the Department had no unit to support such right holders, but was serious about redressing the wrongs of the past, then it would need to set up such a unit.
Mr Mtoba said that support was given to the SMMEs which included identifying the basket of species as well as ensuring that the SMMEs implemented policies and provision of funding, training and infrastructure development.
The Department further explained that there was a support structure for SMMEs in the industry. The right holders that had become successful were those who had access to the market and to the storage facilities.
There were a number of retailers that had indicated interest in sourcing fish from interim relief right holders and small scale fishers, but discussions were preliminary. Market channels were needed. There was also interest from the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) to provide support to cooperatives that had been established and there was a number of boats that had been made available for fishing cooperatives.
Ms Phaliso asked why so many tonnes of rock lobster were walking out of the sea, if eating such posed health risks.
Dr Prochazka explained that the way fisheries worked was that there was a bank account with capital and fishing rights relied on the interest. A walkout was the capital. There was nothing wrong with eating the lobster from the walkout as long as it was alive, but when it was dead, there was no guarantee that it was safe to be consumed. Walkouts were happening more frequently and the colleagues from the Department of Environment had been monitoring the situation, to monitor the oxygen in the water.
Ms Phaliso referred to page 31 of the presentation inferring that abalone was taken away from SMMEs and not from big players. She referred to the case of Hawston, where people lost their big houses while they had the rights, because people were earning a living using their rights, and they were taken away and those people fell into poverty. She asked the Department why that was happening and what informed the decision to take rights away from small rights holders and not the big ones.
The Department replied that TACs were allocated in terms of percentage, hence the reduction of rights would be proportional to that percentage and would therefore not disadvantage the SMMEs.
Ms Phaliso also asked the Department to provide an update on the outcome of investigations into illegal rights at the Eastern Cape and if the regulations only applied to the historically disadvantaged and not the big players.
The Department replied that in 2006, when rights were allocated, there was an extensive forensic investigation done to ensure that the right holders applicants were legitimate. A tip-off line was implemented where the public could call in anonymously to report any suspicious activity. At the moment, there were rumours circulating about some who might have illegal permits, but no one had come forth to report them. So far, the Department had investigated six individuals and had their rights revoked.
The biggest challenge for abalone in the Eastern Cape was the weather's prohibiting existing exemption experimental permit holders. The experiment that started in June was due to end in October and the estimated allocation was 1.5 tonnes but seven tonnes was landed. A decision was taken to synchronise the experiment with the calendar year. Permit holders had indicated the need for divers and the Department had engaged some divers after background checks were done, which saw some potential divers withdrawing.
Ms A Steyn (DA) apologised for being late as she had to keep an eye on the situation of the farmworkers in De Doorns. She wanted to put her question back on the table from the week before about anti-poaching efforts and the boats, for the Department to give clarity on how it was handing the situation and how the Navy was handling it as well.
The Department replied that the Fisheries Unit had a fleet of rubber ducks and small boats that were also alongside the station and they also helped with dealing with poaching. Those were the small vessels that were making arrests in Hout Bay, Robben Island and the Overberg.
The role of the Navy was to operate the patrol vessels in terms of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Department, not enforcing the MLRA or dealing with the poachers. On board the vessels, DAFF had its own officers who did the inspections and dealt with fishing vessels at sea. DAFF also had other small boats distributed along the coast of South Africa in collaboration with other agencies.
Ms Steyn referred to the Small Scale Fisheries Policy and the reference in the presentation that there was a decline in the rock lobster biomass. She asked the Department how it planned to include small scale fisheries in the recovery plan.
Mr Van Dalen reminded the meeting of the Department’s responsibility and mandate in the outcome 10 of the Presidential Plan by reading it out again, saying it would comfort him if it were so. He said there was a contradiction in a statement made in the presentation. Interim relief was stopped this year as stocks were under threat of crayfish, but the Department was saying that progress was made in the area and did not need intervention. He asked about the estimated trends on rock lobster and abalone poaching. He asked how the TACs could be kept the same when poaching had increased by 15%. He asked why the Department was not catching the poachers. He also pointed out that if the TACs remained the same, why was the Department targeting the people in Hawston if it was saying everything was fine. It just did not make any sense.
He suggested that the Committee needed to go to Hawston to see what was going on there.
The Department explained that interim relief was stopped earlier in the year not because stock was declining but because poaching was discovered by the Department, as a result of exemption right holders colluding with area representatives to land more fish than they were supposed to. The programme was temporarily suspended for investigation. A number of right holders were found to have caught much more than they were supposed to and to have manipulated their sheets. The remaining right holders, who complied, were allowed to continue harvesting.
Mr Van Dalen asked what kind of data the Department had on the hake, given that no survey had been done. In the recovery plan, something had to be in place if all the trends went on as they did. He asked why TACs remained the same if the stocks were going down. He pointed to rumours that the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had phoned the necessary person in the Department with instructions to keep the TACs the same. He asked how that fitted in with the new certification. It seemed like TACs were not determined on scientific levels but rather on political information and it should not work like that and the Department needed to do what it had to do without fear or favour.
Dr Prochazka explained that the West Coast survey did happen but the South Coast survey that did not happen was not a major setback.
Mr Mtoba said that he wanted to put on record that he was not aware of any call from the Minister with the instructions to keep the TACs the same.
The Acting Chairperson welcomed Mr Johnson who had joined the meeting and invited him to take the Chair and continue the meeting. Mr Johnson apologised for joining the meeting late as he had attended another meeting that took longer than expected.
Mr Bhanga asked about the anti-poaching project lead by military veterans and what was in its place as it expired in September.
Mr Mtoba explained that the Department had extended the contract of the veterans in the anti-poaching operation, as it was an Expanded Public Works (EPWP) project. The plan was to expand the programme to cover the Eastern Cape and Port Elizabeth and the Wild Coast. It would be based around the Port St Johns area.
Mr Bhanga also asked if fishing companies that had contravened the Marine Living Resources Act would have their rights reviewed.
The Department explained that dealing with right holders who contravened the MLRA was dealt with in Section 28 of the Act which indicated that their rights could be suspended, cancelled or revoked.
Mr Bhanga also pointed out to the Department that the Committee had asked about the level of the people involved in convictions but it had not received an answer. He also asked if there was a possibility of closure on the crisis on abalone.
Mr Mtoba said that he was not aware the Committee wanted rates of conviction but the Department could provide them. He said the Department recently held a workshop for magistrates, prosecutors and justice officials to raise their awareness on environmental crime and to ensure that they would take them seriously.
The Department said that the Fisheries Security Unit had partnered with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in the past year, which saw an increase in direct imprisonment of offenders. A partnership had also been established with the National Prosecuting Authority to set up a court in Khayelitsha for poaching offences. The Department also had the mandate to follow up where the fish went outside South Africa's borders, and was glad to report that it was able to intercept and reroute containers back to SA. It worked together with the Law Enforcement Agencies and with the South African Revenue Service (SARS). People had also gone to Hong Kong to give evidence in court on abalone poaching and the result was that some containers of poached abalone were shipped back to SA.
Mr Bhanga also asked if the country could be confident about the recovery plan and if there would be sustainable commercial fishing in the country. He asked if the recovery plan put forth by the Department was comparable and could be compared to those of countries which were successful in taking on aquaculture, like Brazil.
Dr Prochazka replied that the recovery plan was designed to increase a bigger pool of fish to make the resource resilient, which was important for the future. All the countries which had ratified the Millennium Development Goals had an obligation to build fish stocks. Some were doing it with greater success than others and such success was more correlated with the type of resource to recover rather than the country itself.
Mr Bhanga asked if the Department intended to extend the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
The MPAs were a trade off because they could assist the fish stocks improvement but reduced fishing areas. A national debate was needed on this.
Mr Gaehler asked about the case of the right holders who passed away, and if the permits were passed on to the family members.
The Department replied that the dependents of the deceased right holders had the right to make use of the fishing rights. The same applied for those who were unable to go to sea due to health reasons. They could nominate a representative to operate on their behalf.
Mr Gaehler was worried about the lack of coordination between DAFF and the Department of Environment and the stakeholders as the knowledge needed by the community members was not shared. He asked what the Department was doing to ensure people had the knowledge to protect species and said that it needed to be involved in fishing because some of them were not allowed to fish due to certain problems caused by lack of information.
The Chairperson pointed out that poaching was at a level of 30% two years before and it came down, as that was the main aim at the time. He said that if people were given rights for fishing, they were allowed to fish anywhere in the country. He also said that changing the law was something that needed to be considered, or, in the worst case scenario, the country could take the Zimbabwe route with indigenisation laws to bring serious equity to the communities. He said that the local communities needed to be the majority shareholders.
Ms Phaliso said that she had waited a long time to be briefed for readiness but the poorest of the poor were still neglected and the gap was getting bigger and bigger. She referred to 2 000 workers in the Eastern Cape in the squid industry who had lost their jobs and the Department had not done anything about it. She demanded to know what had happened there.
The Department explained that the squid TACs had never gone down and the layoffs were purely due to market forces. It was outside the control of the Department.
Ms Phaliso asked if the Communication Officer from the Department gave the same information to the SMMEs that was being given to the big players. She asked what the Communication Strategy was.
The Department said that there was a formal structure and there were existing working groups in place with associations representing the right holders. If there were issues that needed to be communicated, they were done through working groups.
Ms Phaliso asked when the review in legislation was coming to the Committee and asked if it was the legislation that was hampering the way forward.
The Department understood that the Committee wanted to be part of the process and it would consider that.
Ms Phaliso also asked why the traditional knowledge of people in the community was not utilised by the scientists. She related her own knowledge passed down from her forefathers saying that the communities could benefit a lot if their knowledge was used. She said, when she grew up, the communities were taught not to touch the habitat of the fisheries areas as that was what produced the fish needed by the community. But now, the community members were instead being called poachers as they forced to poach because they were hungry. The community members in the meeting cheered in support of Ms Phaliso.
The Department called for the scientists to take note of using indigenous knowledge in their work.
Ms Phaliso was not convinced about the reliability of the information from experts about walk outs, saying that it could not be the truth. She said that the question of transformation had no appetite and there was no will to implement the agenda, and that the country should not just rely on academics to implement it. She said that people in the communities knew that there was a change in sea water as part of their indigenous knowledge and they were really very experienced as they went to the university of life.
Mr Mtoba said that the point of transformation was to broaden the participation of the previously disadvantaged people and also the need to promote sector growth. The small scale fisheries policy aimed at encouraging small scale fisheries being conscious of the SMME and the history of the poor communities in terms of not having access to funds to promote growth.
In relation to the jetties, Ms Phaliso asked the Department to visit Doornbay and Honderklipbay as there was abject poverty there and there needed to be an alternative. That was why she asked about the species caught in the past not mentioned in the document. She said that the more the past was talked about, the more people would benefit, otherwise, there would always be preaching about poaching and talking about the country’s own people as that was created and needed to be redressed.
Mr Mtoba said that lack of funds limited research and expertise to fully unlock economic potential of all species. There were 300 that could be exploited but in terms of scientific expertise the Department was limited in resources. Therefore the understanding the full life parameters of the species made it difficult to set the TACs.
Ms Phaliso asked for an indication of which areas were given support by the Department of Trade and Industry in terms of vessels and boats. The skills for making such boats were in the country.
The Departmetn replied that the dti assisted the communities in the Doornbay area with six boats, three boats in Lamberts Bay, and three boats in the Stanford area.
Ms Phaliso’s voice was rising in frustration, as she said that she was one of the people reporting fraud when the fraud line opened, but nothing happened. More poverty was created and the Government was putting up the same places that closed down due to fraud and appointing the same people.
She asked about the role of the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Policy (CASP) if the provinces were helping at all to uplift the rights of communities. She wanted in writing which provinces were allocating rights and money. She asked when the satellite offices would be opened.
Mr Mtoba replied that, in terms of CASP, all provinces would get support as the ones that were not near the coast like Mpumalanga were developing aquaculture. Such development was also responding to issues of poverty in the provinces. The Department would be meeting in Limpopo to discuss aquaculture.
The Department had satellite offices around the country but they were mainly for compliance purposes, but heard the Committee's statement that they needed to be integrated offices. 20 Fisheries Development Officers had been appointed and the poor areas had been prioritised.
Mr Bhanga said that this was a new era of allocation. He asked the Department if Members could go back to their constituencies after the current term and convincingly say that the allocation would redress inequalities in the communities, that the poor would get allocation that would change lives of ordinary people, and that an impact would be made.
Mr Bhanga asked what impact the vessels' not sailing had on the programme of stock recovery.
Dr Prochazka explained that there was consistency of data in surveys and that most of analysis worked on trends over time. It was important to compare the same things over the years. There were no major problems with larger resources but some on smaller ones.
Mr Bhanga said that the Department needed to deal with poaching at the international level and that it needed to come out with interventions to deal with those at that level.
Mr Abram quoted John F Kennedy that 'If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it can not save the few who are rich'. He asked the Department again in which way it could help the coastal community not to merely subsist but to see its station in life improve. He remarked that thinking big was required as the issues were much much bigger. The Department needed to come up with a model where coastal communities got involved in the fishing sector at a macro level and where the communities could have business involvement. The problem needed state intervention. The audience cheered in agreement with Mr Abram.
Mr Abram felt that the Department was not coming out strongly enough on the issue of poaching especially as it was linked to the drug trade in the community. The country's major assets were at stake and there needed to be a stronger intervention.
The Department replied that there were dealings with international syndicates and gave the example of a person who was being charged with poaching and the reason why the person had to be referred to the high court was to ensure the stiffest sentence.
Mr Abram also asked why there could not be a similar intervention, like CASP, for fisheries. The approach needed to ensure that people not only had food but could be entrepreneurs.
Mr Gaehler asked what the Department did with confiscated loot. He also asked about the satellite offices, and said that the flow of information was crucial to the people who needed it most.
The Department replied that the confiscated abalone was sold through public auction with registered abalone processing companies who were invited. Once they bought it from DAFF, then the Department no longer had any control over it.
Mr Gaehler asked about the Wild Coast and what was being done to alleviate poverty. He asked DAFF to come up with a model to create employment.
The Department replied that two environmental officers were based at Port St Johns to address the Wild Coast. Over 1 000 exemptions had been issued. The challenge was that the community was right next to an MPA. The Department was discussing the possibility of allowing limited access by the community to the MPA.
Mr Van Dalen asked about the Department’s view about the green courts and their reinstatement.
He too wanted to know about the poached loot and what the Department did with it.
The Department explained that the reinstatement of the Green Court was done only by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in consultation with the NPA, and DAFF provided only input. The court in Khayelitsha was an arrangement entered into with the NPA to fast track prosecution and finalisation of marine living resources transgressions. It was to not be classified as one of those green or environmental courts.
Mr Van Dalen was not happy with the answer given about the call from the Minister instructing to keep the TACs the same. He would have been happy to hear about what the Government was doing to reduce the TACs rather. He said that the Department needed to take such matters seriously as the Minister had not met with the people in over three years.
Ms Phaliso strongly urged the Department to provide a report on the 3 000 km of coastline where poor people lived.
Ms Pilusa Mosoane said that an empty stomach did not know any law. She asked the Department to provide a report on how far it had gone with transformation and fronting. She asked about incorporation of small scale fisheries into policy and how it would be done. She asked why many things were outsourced.
The Department replied that the most challenging of the fronting issues was related to the Kalahari fishing issue and the Department was aware of it and there was an investigation being carried out.
The Chairperson said that the company concerned was back at work and the previous white owner was back in his position. Members had heard the Lamberts Bay women on the issues. The company concerned had defrauded SARS on three occasions by producing fraudulent tax certificates.
The Department explained that the issue of outsourcing, was a huge process that took place every 10-15 years. The Department did not have the full capacity to roll out projects and therefore needed administration support and specific expertise. For example, conducting forensic investigations needed the assistance of outside entities.
Ms Twala was not happy with the answers provided by the Department, and said that it did not do justice to the questions being asked, such as the queries on convictions.
Mr Mtoba replied that the conviction rates could be provided and that the Department had recently secured a 30 year sentence for poaching at the Bellville Magistrates' Court.
The Chairperson was still battling with the decentralisation of services and asked the Department that people should be able to apply from anywhere and not expect to come all the way to Cape Town.
The Committee agreed to visit De Doorns to familiarise itself with the problems experienced by the farm workers.
The meeting was adjourned.
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