Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill [B30B-2013]: Briefing by Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

07 October 2013
Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The presentation highlighted the proposed amendments to the Marine Living Resources Amendments Bill. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries proposed an amendment to section 1 of the Bill - to insert definitions of “small-scale fisher”, “small-scale dishing community” and “small-scale fishing community area”. These definitions were required to identify, verify and register small-scale fishers and small-scale fishing communities. Another amendment that was proposed was to amend section 1 of the MLRA to add to the definition of “South African person” a co-operative registered in terms of the Co-operatives Act 14 of 2005. This would enable small-scale fishers to access the benefits and support of the Department of Trade and Industry to co-operatives.

The Bill proposed a new section 19 to replace the current section 19 of the Bill. This section would deal with the management of the small-scale fisheries sector. Section 19 also determined that processes and procedures relating to the allocation and management of small-scale fishing rights, the criteria for recognition of small-scale fishers and communities and any other administrative or procedural matter that could be necessary must be set out in regulations. It determined the establishment of fishing areas or zones for small-scale fishers, the recognition of small scale fishing communities and the possible prohibition of other fishing or related activity which could impact negatively on small scale fishing.

Members were mainly concerned with the issue of co-operatives that had been implemented by the Department and wanted to know if they would work as there have been problems with co-operatives in the Land Reform programme. Members asked if there was a law put in place to prohibit people from selling their fishing rights, if the Department was buying boats for small-scale fishers, why the term “Subsistence” was being deleted from the Bill, and if they could get clarity on the 70% near shore quotes. The Committee noted that there should be a distinction between a person who fished recreationally, and someone who fished for a living. They were also concerned about how previously marginalised groups such as women and youth would be included in the Bill.
 

Meeting report

Opening Statements
Mr Dennis Fredericks, Acting Deputy Director-General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (the Department) presented the document. There was currently no legal framework to implement the Policy for the Small-Scale Fisheries Sector (the Policy) in South Africa, which was published as Government Notice 574 in Government Gazette No. 35455 on 20 June 2012. The promulgation of the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill 2013 would enable the Minister to allocate small scale fishing rights and in a substantial manner transform the inequalities of the past fisheries system.

Proposed Amendments to the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill, 2013
The Bill was published on 25 April 2013 for comment. Following the requests to extend the due date for comment, the due date was extended to 14 June 2013. The Department, after proper consideration of the comments and petitions received from various stakeholders, including industry, small-scale fishers and other interested parties, decided to narrow the focus of the Bill to only deal with amendments necessary to implement the Policy. The people wanted small-scale policy. 

The following amendments were proposed: The amendment of section 1 of the MLRA to insert definitions of “small-scale fisher”, “small-scale fishing community” and “small-scale fishing community area” as set out in the Policy. These definitions were required to identify, verify and register small-scale fishers and small-scale fishing communities. This would enable the Department to go to the correct people. Another amendment that was proposed was to amend section 1 of the MLRA to add to the definition of “South African person” a co-operative registered in terms of the Co-operatives Act 14 of 2005. This would enable small-scale fishers to access the benefits and support of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to co-operatives.

Additionally all the references to the word “subsistence” in the MLRA would be deleted and replaced with the word “small-scale”. This would entrench small-scale fisheries management systems. Three new principles and objectives that would guide the interpretation, administration and implementation of the Policy would be added to the current principles and objectives of the MLRA. The new principles and objectives would ensure that decision makers must have due regard to the need to promote marginalized groups such as women and youth. It also highlighted the importance of food security, socio economic development and the alleviation of poverty. It further recognised the allocation of a basket of species as opposed to single species allocations for instance hake.

The Department proposed a new section 19 to replace the current section 19 of the MLRA. This section would deal with the management of the small-scale fisheries sector. Section 19 also determined that processes and procedures relating to the allocation and management of small-scale fishing rights, the criteria for recognition of small-scale fishers and communities and any other administrative or procedural matter that could be necessary must be set out in regulations. It determined the establishment of fishing areas or zones for small-scale fishers, the recognition of small scale fishing communities and the possible prohibition of other fishing or related activity, which could impact negatively on small-scale fishing.

Economic Impact of Small Scale Fisheries Implementation
The presentation highlighted an overview of the number of fishing communities in three regions namely KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, and the Western Cape and Northern Cape. In KZN the number of fishing communities was 19 and those communities had a total of 1359 fishers and their target resources were Linefish, Brown Mussels and Oysters. The Eastern Cape had the highest number of fishing communities, which was 82, and the number of fishers in this region was 4474. The target resources for the Eastern Cape were Linefish, Brown Mussels, Oysters and ECRL. Lastly, the Western and Northern Cape both had a total of 36 fishing communities and 1500 fishers in this region and the target resources was Linefish, WCRL, and White Mussels. All three regions combined had a total of 137 fishing communities and the 7333 fishers. The presentation also highlighted that 36 000 Recreational Fishing Permits were issued out. It also highlighted a Provisional Projection that would create 8000 new jobs in 160 fishing communities and pay fishers between R10 000 to 20 000 per person.

Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) 2013: Road Map
The presentation gave an overview of the road map of the Fishing Rights Allocation Process in 2013. A review general and sector policies: public consultation took place between 10 and 27 May 2013 and the extended comment due date was 14 June. The Gazette Final General Policy and Sector- Specific Policies took place on 28 June. On 1 July there was the appointment of service providers and the simplification of application forms. On 14 June there was an agreement on level of application fee if any (CFO and Treasury): and possible exemption for small scale fisheries applicants and there was also an approval of the no fee. The call for applications was done between 22 July and 6 September and the MLRA amendments were approved on 30 October. The closing date for applications was between 16 and 28 September. Lastly the road map for the Fishing Rights Allocation Process ended with verification and assessment from 1 October to 30 November 2013.

Discussion
Mr P van Dalen (DA) asked the Chairperson if next time the meeting could be held in a bigger room, as many people were interested because it was a very emotive issue.

The Chairperson said that it was time for the Committee to think about the Bill, which was now in the hands of the Committee. He reminded people that the Reconstruction Development Programme (RDP) document stated that there should be one Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and this only happened in 2009. Fishing rights had to transform from medium to long term.

Mr R Cebekhulu (ANC) asked if the Department was going to buy boats for the small-scale fishers. Why was the term “subsistence” being deleted? If they were going to look after small-scale fishing, were they going to give people a right to fish a certain number of fish for daily consumption? He suggested that there should be a provision for people who fish for a living as well, in the Bill.

Mr Fredericks responded by saying that the word subsistence was being deleted but this was not problematic because it was being replaced by the word “Small-scale fishers”. Subsistence fishers wanted to know how much they could sell, and they were told that if they wanted to sell more, they could come to the Department, hence the term “Small scale fishers”. The DTI bought boats for small-scale fishers and was targeting people with interim permits. The Department agreed that if they were to look after small scale fishers, it should be purposeful and constructive.

Ms A Steyn (DA) asked to leave early. She welcomed the new Director-General for the Department. She asked why the presentation was marked confidential, as it was a public document. She also asked about co-operatives. Co-operatives made sense on paper but in reality they did not work. If co-operatives did not work, did the Department have an alternative plan?

Mr Frederick responded by saying that co-operatives were something the Department had thought about for a very long time. A few co-operatives were working in South Africa and it was the Department’s opinion that they would work well with enough intervention. He said that the Department had a trial run in the Northern Cape, where a group of people pulled their resources together and formed a co-operative. The result was positive as they made more money than when they were working as individuals.

Mr van Dalen said that the DA would do anything to reduce poverty in the fisheries. Co-operatives did not work. What did the basket of fish look like? Communities did not trust the Department because it did not take the time talk to them. He said that the Department could not start a bill by excluding certain people or restricting them.

Mr Fredericks responded by saying that a basket of fish was made available and it included a number of different species. There were five basket areas along the Mozambican border.  With regards to the basket of fish, there were terms and conditions to follow. This was why the Department told large companies that they had a big role to play in terms of helping with job security.

Mr van Dalen also said that there should not be a comparison between a person who fished once a year and someone who depended on fish for a living. The Department restricted a lot of people, and it forced people into becoming poachers and thieves. The DA would give its support if everything in the Bill was in order.

Mr Fredericks responded by saying that people did not live on fish alone. That was the reason that small scale fishers wanted rights to fish. The comparison was that there were permits for recreational, commercial and small scale fishing. He said that if a person wanted to sell fish, the recreational permit did not allow this. If someone wanted to sell fish, a commercial or small scale fishing permit was needed.

Mr M Cele (ANC) said that Mr van Dalen was contradicting himself. The Bill was intended to help people who were suffering. He disagreed with Mr van Dalen that communities did not trust the Department.

The Chairperson asked the Department to redefine the meaning of a “South African person” as stated in the presentation.

Mr Fredericks responded by saying that members of co-operatives had to be South African citizens. He explained that a South African citizen was a person who was born in South Africa and acquired a South African ID or a foreigner who acquired South African citizenship.

Mr S Abram (ANC) asked what the Department would do if the South African citizen was a woman. Once a law was made, they had to be able to implement it. A South African Citizen was someone who was born in South Africa and had a national ID; alternatively, it was also someone who was a foreigner but became a South African citizen.

Mr Fredericks responded by saying that one of the amendments in the Bill was to include all the marginalised people and these included women and the youth. He said that women were disadvantaged for various reasons, one of them being that they could not always go to the sea. The Department wanted to help women in making sure that they were involved in some part of the industry. He said that there was also need to empower the youth.

Mr Abram said that Members asked questions so that they could see how to better the situation. Communities knew the value of the product; they had to tell the Committee what had to be done. The Committee had to make sure there was a relationship between fishers and someone in power. There had to be dedicated funding for this programme.

Mr Frederick’s responded by saying that support was there and it would be given to the fishing industry. He said that there were a lot of things to be done. He added that fishers said they were getting more money for live lobsters and the Department assisted with this by providing the necessary help that was needed for fishers to keep lobsters alive.

Mr van Dalen asked for the names of the co-operatives so that Members could go and oversee what they were doing. The Committee needed a list of what was in the basket. They needed clarification on the 70% near shore quotas.

Mr Fredericks responded by saying that they would send the list of the basket to the Committee Members. He said that the 70% was not a new provision. The 70% referred to fishing rights allocated to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The Chairperson reminded the Committee that they were dealing with legislation not the processing of applications for permits. What structures were in place so that people did not sell their quotas?

Prof Edith Vries, Director-General for the Department, replied that clause19 (2) in the Bill stated that fishing rights were not transferable without the consent of the Minister. This was the structure in place now.

Ms R Nyalangu (ANC) asked about the title deed. How many years would it be before people could sell their quotas? Were the species selected already?

Mr Fredericks responded by saying that unlike the RDP houses, no specified timeline had been set for people to keep their quotas before selling them.

The Chairperson noted that there were other issues that the Committee would deal with later. He also noted that this Bill was “gold”. He said that the Committee was not yet dealing with the Annual Report.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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