Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill [B30-2013]: Public hearings Day 1

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

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

The Committee held public hearings on the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill, which sought to incorporate into legislation the Small Scale Fisher (SSF) policy that had been extensively debated with fishing communities, and that had been aired during public hearings held earlier in October.

Submissions were received from Fisha SA, Coastal Links South Africa, Legal Resources Centre, FEIKE, South African United Fishing Front, Congress of South African Trade Unions, First Indigenous Women of Hout Bay, Mr Claassen, Ibhayi Fishing, Hottentots Holland Fisher’s Association, Artisanal Fishers Association, Food & Allied Workers Union and West Coast Rock Lobster Association. Some of the submissions did not directly address the five amendments being effected by this Bill, but were rather generic presentations on the SSF industry. Some submissions merely stated that they agreed with the SSF policy and amendments, as they would effect transformation in the industry. However, In summary, the following concerns and points were also raised in the submissions:
- The incorporation of subsistence fishing under the definition of small-scale fishers and the definition of a South African person. One submission, from FEIKE, proposed that both subsistence and small scale fishers should be separately defined and the latter dealt with under an entirely new section. It was concerned that true subsistence fishers would not be able to comply with what was set out in the Bill.
- The role of co-operatives in small-scale fishing, their success, failures and subsequent impacts, and the legal entities proposed to represent communities. Some submissions suggested that more work was needed on finalising the models. Others suggested that cooperatives were not ideal, and that perhaps the definition of a juristic person should be amended to include trusts or other legal entities. Others emphasised that SSFs should not be obliged to form cooperatives, but that the system of individual rights should be retained, with those individuals to form cooperatives if they wished to pool the rights. However, others maintained that the system of individual rights and transferable quotas had been abused in the past and had led to increasing poverty in the SSF sector.


- The cost of implementing small-scale fisheries policy was questioned, particularly if the costs were to be recovered from the rest of the fishing sector
- The commercialisation of resources had to be considered, and the whole value chain would need to be addressed, not just the SSFs themselves.
- There were some questions around the proposed two-stage amendment process. LRC in particular recommended that the implementation of the SSF policy must be preceded by a coherent and overarching policy for the transformation of the entire fisheries sector, to properly recognise small scale fishers, whilst sufficient time must also be allowed to properly identify and recognise small fishing communities, in particular those with customary rights that required protection and promotion. Furthermore, communities must be given sufficient time to organise themselves into rights holding entities. Another submission, from SAUFF, suggested a number of changes, and in particular also recommended that time be given until 2015 before implementing, to adequately address the concerns and undertake further research.
- In regard to customary rights, LRC noted that the Bill stated that no customary rights would be affected, although the policy claimed that they would be respected. This was a point that the LRC would be monitoring.
- One submission questioned whether the policy was in alignment with the National Development Plan
- The fact that the SSF could not guarantee a basket of species that would be economically viable to its beneficiaries, the lack of testing by DAFF to the presented basket of species, and the question whether the SSFs really understood the policy, was questioned.
- Several submissions addressed the historical and political legacies embedded in South Africa, with COSATU making direct accusations against some MPs that they would prefer not to see any changes.
- The need to find a balance between big companies and small-scale fishers was noted.

Members repeated concerns, several times, that many of the submissions were not directly speaking to the substance or wording of the Bill and urged the presenters to state, upfront, what suggestions they had to improve the Bill, as this would be their last chance to do so. A DA Member expressed his continuing concern that co-operatives were not the ideal vehicle, wondered if they would be able to comply with the technical requirements, and asked for assurance that they would achieve what the Bill sought. An ANC Member said that co-operatives had worked in the past, and could work again, but substantial assistance would be needed from government, with the budget to support it. Members commented that although the question of using cooperatives had been raised, few submissions actually suggested what alternatives might be more suitable. Members from both the DA and ANC expressed concern about the “piecemeal” nature of this Bill and would have preferred to see something that addressed all the issues, and said there was no doubt that it would need further amendments quite soon. The public hearings would continue on the next day.
 

Meeting report

Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill: public hearings
Chairperson’s opening remarks

The Chairperson welcomed all the entities to the Committee and explained to them the rules of the Committee, which must be respected. He informed the delegation that any presenter was welcome to present in his/her preferred language. He further explained that public submissions would be taken on the amendments made to the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA), which were specifically intended to give effect to the small-scale fishing (SSF) polices that government had adopted. He pointed out that the amendments were very specific and included matters such as the new definition of small-scale fisher (SSF).

Mr P van Dalen (DA) asked if there were any members of the public who applied to come and present to the Committee, but had been disqualified; and if so, for what reasons?

The Chairperson replied that some submissions that came late in the process had yet to be read by the Committee.  

Mr van Dalen rephrased his question and stated that he wanted to know if everyone who did meet the deadline for comment was given the opportunity to make an oral presentation.

The Chairperson replied that the Committee had actually gone out of its way to accommodate both those who had, and had not, met the deadlines.

Mr S Abram (ANC) stated that the coastline was 3 000 kilometres long but these public hearings were only taking place in Cape Town. As such, he wanted to ensure that the ordinary citizens of South Africa were accurately represented and properly taken care of with regard to accommodation and transportation, and that Parliament had catered adequately for all those wanting to make submissions.

The Chairperson replied that any requests for transport assistance made had been catered for, but there were only two; from Hout Bay and Strand. He also noted that the written submissions came from several provinces, such as Kwazulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape.

Mr Abram explained that the reason for asking this question was that he overheard some discussions in the room that some people were paying excessive transport and accommodation fees. He was wondering if the Committee was able to accommodate those who had to be travel far, and whether those who resided in Cape Town should not present last, to allow those who had to travel far to leave early to reach home on the same day.

The Chairperson agreed and arrangements were made accordingly.

Fish SA Submission
Mr Jeremy Marillier, Spokesman for Fish SA, informed the Committee that FishSA represented roughly 90% of the economic fishing sector. Primarily, the role of FishSA was the promotion of the development of the commercial fishing sector through engagement with the Government and the Minister on matters that affected the commercial fishing industry. Since the publishing of the original Bill, there had been substantial concern within the fishing industry on various clauses that related to the small-scale fisher (SSF) sector. FishSA had focused on trying to minimise the amendments, in order to fast track the adoption of the Bill, and he noted that during the engagements between the industry and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), there had been a focus to try to limit the amendments to the MLRA, in order to deal with the SSF policy only.

He argued that the new definition of small scale fisher, which incorporated subsistence fishers, was disadvantageous to that sector. He was also concerned at the definition of a South African person. The use of principal place of business of a juristic entity was at odds with the usual for defining a South African person, which used registration in South Africa combined with majority shareholding or members’ interest by a South African person, as the determining factor.

Mr Marillier noted that the Memorandum on the Objects of the Bill estimated that the cost of implementing the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy was R424.6 million over five years. In another presentation, on 8 October, it was indicated that this cost had increased to R576 million over five years, but a budget was not yet secured, which was a major concern. Another concern was the potential impact that this cost would have on the remainder of the fishing industry, particularly if it was to be part of the cost recovery model.

Mr Marillier said that more details were required around the small-scale fishing zones and their impact on squid catch areas.

Furthermore, a more generic concern was around the management of co-ops and the need to work through more practical details, especially around governance issues. He explained that very strong support structures were necessary in order to successfully roll out the implementation plan.

Mr Marillier concluded that Fish SA supported the objectives of food security and improving coastal livelihoods, but was concerned about the impact on the economy, which may not be what government intended. The government had to put together a basket of services to deal with creating coastal efficient communities.

Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA) submission
Mr Christiaan Adams, Chairperson, Coastal Links SA, noted that CLSA extended all the way from the Northern Cape to Kosi Bay at the Mozambique border. As an organisation, CLSA had been working in fishing communities for years and was currently representing more than 4 000 fishers in the coastal areas in South Africa. He honoured several names of those who lost their lives fighting for the recognition of the legal rights of small-scale fisheries in South Africa.

CLSA supported the amendment Bill for several reasons. Firstly, because of individual transferrable quotas, there were communities where an individual was able to fish legally while another had to steal. Furthermore, the commercialisation of resources left many fishing communities with no food. He stated that the MLRA had to change in order to meet the needs of small-scale industries. Overall, Mr Adams agreed with and supported the MLRA Amendment Bill.

Legal Resources Centre (LRC) submission 

Mr Henk Smith, Attorney, Legal Resources Centre, stated that this legislation was of great importance as it addressed legacy issues that have been ongoing since 1913. He explained that the LRC’s interest in this Bill related to its representation of the fishers who had challenged the Minister in the Equality Court in 2005 and 2010. That particular litigation resulted in the small-scale fishing (SSF) policy, which was the subject of the present amendments. He considered it the duty of the LRC, therefore, to report to the Committee whether the Minister was now complying with the court order. He explained that the amendment made to the MLRA fell within the parameter of the court order and ensured that the rights of the SSFs would be realised. Furthermore, the LRC also represented members of the Hobeni fishing community who were charged with the intention to fish illegally in terms of the MLRA, and who had instructed the LRC to challenge the MLRA.

LRC firstly wanted to comment on the proposed two-stage amendment process, which aimed to use a minimalist approach, by first amending the legislation to make small-scale fishing possible and to recognise the policy decisions that were taken in the past by Cabinet. For the recognition of small-scale fishing to take place, he stated that a shift in mindset may be required. LRC thus recommended that the implementation of the SSF policy must be preceded by:
- a coherent and overarching policy for the transformation of the entire fisheries sector to properly recognise small scale fishers;
- sufficient time to properly identify and recognise small fishing communities, in particular those with customary rights that required protection and promotion in terms of the Constitution
- sufficient time, resources and facilitation to enable communities to organise themselves into rights holding entities able to govern the community rights properly. Ultimately, the governmental approach needed a shift towards a developmental and community rights based approach.

Mr Smith then addressed the legal entity that would responsible to represent communities, including co-operatives and community rights. The LRC did not agree with the decision to amend the MLRA to force communities to form co-operatives. However, they would have to do this because the Bill provided that rights may only be allocated to “South African persons”, but the only form of association falling within that definition was a co-operative. He believed that they were not appropriate for the SSF policy, and could have negative implications. He argued that a disastrous consequence of organising communities into co-operatives was that a cooperative, as a business entity, could go bankrupt, yet this situation was not envisaged in the amendments or the policy. The LRC thus recommended that the amendment forcing communities to form co-operatives as rights-holding entities should be changed to include ‘trusts’ and even ‘communal property associations’ in the definition.

Section 19, which dealt largely with regulations, made intensive reference to the regulations required and it was the responsibility of the Committee to ensure that the regulations were in accordance with the policy changes but also meets the needs of communities.  

Mr Smith referred Members to the more detailed comment on the recognition of customary rights and stated that this aspect needed further development over the next year. While the Department repeatedly provided assurance that customary rights would be recognised and provided for in the SSF policy, MLRA amendment and the implementation plan, the Memorandum on the Objects  suggested otherwise, because it had stated that the Bill did ‘not contain provisions pertaining to customary law or custom.’ The LRC emphasised the importance of recognising customary rights.

In summary, the LRC believed that the challenge was effective implementation of the aim of the policy, reinforced with the legislative challenges. He would be happy to answer any questions on international comparisons.

Discussion
Mr B Bhanga (COPE) found it difficult to understand what the aim of the submissions was in relation to the legislation, as they had not really assisted in the legislative process, as they were not giving any critique to the legislation. He asked what the understanding was of the responsibility of communities to respect marine environment.

Mr Marillier replied that the issue of compliance and responsibility was a very important one. There was certainly a need to enforce compliance, but training would be necessary to inform the communities of processes and compliance issues.

Mr van Dalen asked why the idea of co-operatives in the fishing sector should be supported, given the historical failures of co-operatives in the past, and why it was suggested that current co-operatives had not succeeded in the economic upliftment of fishers. He also called for comment on how co-operatives could be practically implemented, and whether they would conform to the accounting and legal requirements, such as financial statements and audits. He noted that this Committee had been requesting, for over two years, that this Bill be brought to Parliament, and it contained important principles that had to be implemented correctly. He feared that some of the amendments were done as a “quick fix”. He was also unsure where the fish would actually be found, and how the shares would actually be divided. He wanted assurance that co-operatives (co-ops) were not just another trap for the people and before he was happy to pass the Bill, he needed to be quite sure that such co-ops would actually be beneficial and successful.

Mr Abram wanted to place on record that he had no interest in the fishing industry itself but his concern was about the people who lived off fishing and what should be done to meet their needs, aspirations and wants. He agreed that the principle of coming up with piecemeal legislation, as opposed to legislation that addressed the entire spectrum was not a good one.

Mr Abram said that when interest groups made their submissions, they should address the specific provisions of the Bill. He thanked LRC for its input but felt that it did not go far enough; he was hoping that it would have gone through every clause and stated whether it found it good, required amendment, or should be dropped. For instance, he would like to hear more on where the small scale fishers would be allowed to fish, and whether this amendments would assist, in small or large measure. A particular provision in clause 19 stated that the ‘Minister may, within a prescribed period, recognise a community to be a small-scale fishing community, if the community meets the requirements contained in the definition of a small-scale fishing community.’ This stated “may” rather than “must” and he would like to hear the opinions of those affected as to whether this would be effective. This was the last chance for commentators to change the Bill, to suit their needs. He also would like to hear from those communities who were represented by the LRC, whether the proposed amendments actually addressed their wants and needs.

Mr Abram noted Mr Marillier’s comment that the basket of goods may not solve the issue of poverty, but wanted to know what then, in his opinion, should be the answer to helping alleviate poverty [he further addressed the Committee in Afrikaans]. He then asked the LRC what it would like to see changed in the Bill, to limit problems facing communities.

Mr Abram noted the comments on co-operatives, but said that his experience was that co-ops worked very well in the past and there was, therefore, no reason why they would not should be successful now, but they needed more than just a law. When dealing with people who did not have access to finance and were poor, there was a need for state intervention in order for co-operatives to work. The Committee thus had to accept the fact that achieving these amendments required a big budget, so government had to make funding available, to whatever extent necessary, in order to ensure the success of the Bill.

Mr Marillier replied that poverty reduction was a multi-dimensional approach and as such, it must be understood that fishing communities were not homogenous and each had a different socio-economic profile. In order to address poverty, the local economic development plans must be examined, and how each community could be uplifted. It was also necessary to consider what types of complementary economic activities were needed to support the fishing industry, especially given its seasonal nature.

Ms M Phaliso (ANC) commented that those making the public submissions should not waste the opportunity presented to them and should address the issues directly, because there will not be another opportunity after this process.

Ms A Steyn (DA) was concerned that not all the necessary amendments were being addressed and feared that the Bill, of passed,  would have to be amended again in the following year. She understood the need for urgency but there was also a need for accuracy. There was no point in rushing through the process now, only to make amendments once again. As such, it was highly important that the submissions address every issue of concern, and all aspects to meet all the needs of communities.

Mr Marillier agreed with Ms Steyn that a one-time approach would be much more effective than a piece-meal process, but recognised that it was equally important to address the needs of the small-scale sector as quickly as possible.

Ms N Twala (ANC) asked for clarity on what FishSA meant by saying that subsistence fishing should not be incorporated under small-scale sector.

The Chairperson said that perhaps the lack of specific objections indicated that the public was quite happy with the Bill. The legislation clearly addressed the issue of how to implement the SSF policy. The Chairperson agreed that more discussion on co-operatives was required.

Mr Smith replied that the first draft legislation had gone beyond the SSF policy and had also considered new institutions that could be established, such as a review board as well as an intergovernmental forum. LRC wanted to see these things happen, but accepted that such provisions required intensive implementation and participation. Furthermore, he questioned how it was possible to ensure community participation and inclusion, when there was so much corruption in the market chain. He commended the Bill for its inclusion of a definition of small-scale fishers, who were not covered in the MLRA, and also on the provisions for the revised section 19. In relation to co-ops, he said that LRC saw a potential for co-operatives for marketing and business purposes. However, for governance and legitimacy purposes, LRC believed that the right should be held by an entity in which the rights and responsibilities could be clearly distinguished. There should perhaps be two levels of organisation; one being the community trust and the other the necessary co-ops and entities to exploit the resources within the parameters of community rights. One exciting aspect of this Bill was the fact that it could be implemented even with the minimal changes proposed. Over the next year, LRC would be watching out to see that customary rights were properly recognised, that co-operatives were performing to protect the rights of individuals while enforcing compliance with the conditions of community rights, and also monitoring the institutional arrangements between the different spheres and levels of government so that institutionally, SSF was allotted the proper attention.

FEIKE submission
Mr Shaheen Moolla, Managing Director, FEIKE, thanked the Committee for the opportunity to speak on behalf of his organisation, and said that he firstly wanted to debunk two prevailing myths, briefly touched upon by previous presenters. The first was that the MLRA, and by implementation, the whole previous South African fisheries policy and law, did not recognise small-scale fishers. The Fisheries Policy of 27 July 2001 had specifically recognised a distinction between industrial or large-scale fishing, and small-scale fishing. In 2005, Cabinet passed the amended Fisheries Policy which adopted the cluster approach, which also included small-scale fishing. Furthermore, the May 2012 findings of the Portfolio Committee had noted that there were over 2 200 small-scale fishers who employed thousands of people, paid taxes and contributed to the local economies of the Northern Cape and the Western Cape.

The second myth was that fishing rights in the un-defined category of small-scale fishing sector would only be allocated to co-operatives.

FEIKE noted that the definitions sought to replace ‘subsistence’ fishing with ‘small-scale’ fishing. FEIKE found this to be not only impractical but also to have serious socio-economic consequences. He pointed out there were, over and above the 2 200 previously mentioned small-scale fishers, who were predominantly in the Northern Cape and Cape Town, another 7 800 or so subsistence fishers in the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal alone. Each of these targeted different types of fish. It was important to recognise the significant differences of the obligations and the socio-economic conditions of subsistence fishers. While FEIKE did not object to the explicit inclusion of ‘small scale fishing’ in the MLRA, it was opposed to the process of a simplistic ‘find and replace’. He stated that the category of small-scale fishing must be adequately defined, which was not currently the case. The solution proposed was to maintain the ‘subsistence fishing’ category and then add a new category specific to small-scale fishing, which would be included as a provision under a new Section 21A.

The second main amendment would include the concept of ‘co-operatives’ as a category of ‘South African Person’ that may be allocated a fishing right under section 18. FEIKE did not technically object to the inclusion of co-operatives, but did feel that people should have a choice whether or not to form a co-operative or remain as individual fishers. It should be their choice, nor mandatory, whether to pool their rights and quotas into a co-op structure. Findings from Vietnam showed that co-operatives typically resulted in short-term exploitation at the expense of long-term sustainability. Furthermore, co-operatives resulted in a very low and unstable growth rate as well as low financial returns. The experience of South African cooperatives in other sectors was also not great.

In conclusion, Mr Moolla stated the proposed amendments would have profound social, economic and ecological impacts, which were not adequately taken into account. He argued that it was not possible to responsibly and informatively undertake legislative amendments without the considering such important data. Lastly, he questioned whether the proposed amendments were in line with Chapter 6 of the National Development Plan (NDP), as in his opinion; there was a fundamental conflict between the amendments and the NDP.

South African United Fishing Front (SAUFF) submission
Mr Pedro Garcia, Chairperson, SAUFF, said that the South African United Fishing Front (SAUFF) was a registered non-profit organisation that represented fishers in various fishing sectors and worked closely with smaller local fishing organisations. SAUFF would outline its perceptions. There were many challenges in the fishing industry that must be addressed.

Commenting that one of the main objectives of the amendment Bill was the re-introduction of co-operatives into the MLRA as a form of ownership, within fishing rights allocation processes, he said also that the main reason for the previous removal of co-operatives was the degree of exploitation they had brought upon fishers and fishing communities, which continued to have lingering impacts to this day. SAUFF acknowledged the positives of co-operatives, such as access to financing and markets and also acknowledged that certain areas on the South African coastline would be able to operate successfully within co-operatives. However, SAUFF was strictly opposed to the introduction of collective forms of ownership entrenched in policy as the only and mandatory ownership option, especially when fishers and fishing communities were not adequately empowered to understand the advantages and disadvantages of this form of ownership.

Mr Garcia stated that SAUF believed that the amendment bill should only be approved once the following key issues were addressed:
- The fact that the SSF policy was not an inclusive process and the majority of fishers did not understand its content
- The complex nature of the SSF policy implementation plan, which should be introduced to fishers and fishing communities in the appropriate language as well as in a clear and easily comprehensible manner
- Lack of guarantee that the SSF policy could produce a basket of species that would be economically viable to its beneficiaries
- Lack of testing by DAFF to the presented basket of species
- Lack of research on many of the species that currently appeared on the basket list with regard to the sustainable exploitation of stocks

SAUFF proposed several steps of action as a means to overcome a rather complex situation, as follows:
1) Enough time should be set aside to address and remedy the challenges highlighted by SAUFF’s submission.
2) The current Fishing Rights Allocation Process 2013 processes should be suspended until the expiry of all near-shore rights allocations in 2015.
3) The interim relief dispensation allocation should be increased to a level that would make economic sense until 2015.
4) Properly formulated identification and verification processes were required to identify bona-fide fishers and fishing communities.
5) Near-shore rights, which expired in 2013, should be extended until 2015 in order to protect the jobs of crewmembers and land-based fishery workers who were dependent upon those.
6) Local, national and international markets must explored in the interest of creating rights, which could produce economically viable allocations.
7) All rights allocations processes should be governed by a set of rules that ensured sustainable fisheries management practices.
8) Restructuring of the South African fisheries value chains was needed, so that maximum financial benefits could be derived by fishers and fishing communities from their allocations.
9) A task team, which was representative of all fishers and fishing communities, should be created to drive a process that would be acceptable to all stakeholders.  

Expanding further on the question of co-ops, Mr Garcia repeated that only one single form of ownership was entrenched in the SSF policy. In all other sectors, applicants were provided with a choice on the form of ownership best suited to their needs. SAUFF questioned whether this limitation was constitutional and was of the view that fishing rights should be granted to individuals, who could then choose whether or not to be part of a collective ownership at the community level.

Secondly, he wanted to raise a sensitive but important point, as the current perception on the ground was that Committee’s reputation and integrity were being questioned. The current action by DAFF in changing the fisheries sector policy to include co-operatives, seemed to assume that the Committee would rule in favour of the Amendment Bill, and many fishers thought the submission of this Bill was procedural only, as substantial consideration would not be given by Parliament to the Bill. Mr Garcia stated that the fishing industry was in a very uncertain and volatile environment and that extreme care had to be taken when making any decisions.

Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) submission
Mr Tony Ehrenreich, Provincial Secretary, Western Cape COSATU, began by saying that he was speaking for over two million workers in the country who were somehow related to the fishing industry. He stated that for COSATU, the issue was a simple question that when people talk for vested interests , they speak for those people who pay them”. Unfortunately, in South Africa, some were using the Constitution to try to defend the generational advantages of apartheid, whilst others saw it as the way to change the structure of the economy so that everyone could benefit and be provided with equal opportunities. For too long, too many people had been excluded, and it was finally now that government was making changes.

His written submission, which he read out, outlined COSATU’s views on the Bill. COSATU supported the SSF policy as an important start to the much-needed transformation and undoing of the legacies of apartheid, which he claimed that some Members of the House still supported. This legislation gave small scale fishers, for the first time, legal recognition to undo the marginalisation of communities. COSATU supported the transformation to advance black ownership, but also supported the advancement of the fishing communities interests as part of rebuilding the communities that were impacted by apartheid and the inability of public policy to fundamentally undo the past.

Mr Ehrenreich went on to make several accusations against officials in government, as he believed they were unable to find more socially acceptable public policies that restored society and undid apartheid. More specifically, he claimed that Mr Moola was a ‘hired gun for business’ whose contribution to the public policy debate should not be considered, as COSATU believed he was only representing the vested interest of business to maintain the apartheid generational advantage. He also claimed that the same applied to the DA, as they were primary defendants of the generational advantages of apartheid. He pointed the finger at Mr Van Dalen as “the vindictive defender of the apartheid legacy” who wanted to maintain the status quo in favour of business interest over the communal interest.

Mr Bhanga interrupted and stated this meeting was to discuss the Amendment Bill. He also called upon the Chairperson to protect all Members of the Committee, who sat as one Committee not divided by political representation. He requested that COSATU should focus on issues relative to the Bill only.

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Bhanga and reemphasised that only matters relating to the Amendments be addressed.

Mr Ehrenreich accepted that ruling. He continued that COSATU believed there was a need to focus on the communities and shift the focus from business. There was a need to address the challenges faced by society, such as poverty, unemployment and inequality. Inequality was the greatest challenge, which required drastic changes within public policies. Furthermore, he appealed to government to start putting in place the necessary infrastructure to support the continuous transformation of the industry. It was important to ensure that the role of big business in the future was not to support the status quo, but rather that the wealth incurred was benefiting the people of South Africa as a whole. He concluded that COSATU supported to the policy changes being made and would continue to support the work of government in this regard.

SAUFF Second submission
Mr Gerald Montague presented in Afrikaans to the Committee.

The Committee translator summarised his input. Mr Montague had expressed concern for the fishermen and women because there was uncertainty on the implementation of the policy. He stated that there was a need for the Department to approach the communities who would be impacted by the policy, and explain the policy.

Mr Johannes Engelbrecht also spoke in Afrikaans.

The Committee translator stated that Mr Engelbrecht’s community was largely dependent on the sea. His past experience was that he had he worked for a large company but never received wages. This current system only made the community poorer, particularly in comparison to the nearby towns. The current policies allowed for the majority of the crayfish caught in his community to be used by a different town. He requested that a balance be found to protect communities such as his. Another issue was the ratio between boats and inspectors, as there was only one inspector in the area but multiple fishing boats.  

First Indigenous Women of Hout Bay submission
Ms Michelle Yon, Community worker in Hout Bay, also provided her input in Afrikaans.

The Committee translator stated that Ms Yon said she was representing women, who were the driving force behind the industry and she was very happy to see that they were included in the policy. She wanted to raise a few points. She asked when proper training would be provided for women taking part of co-operatives. Secondly, she asked if any investigations were done into the indigenous knowledge of the fishers. She asked if fish would be held back from big companies in order to support small-scale fishing. She asked why the DAFF had stated that it would be providing loans, when it was perceived to be ‘robbing’ the people. The women in Hout Bay supported the SSF policy in principle, but were in need of more information on how the policy would be implemented.

Discussion
Mr Bhanga asked why FEIKE thought subsistence fishing was a better policy. In relation to co--operatives, he asked why co-operatives were accepted in some scenarios but rejected in others. He commented, to COSATU, that the apartheid government had been able to run successful co-operatives due to large incentives, and asked it why co-operatives were so highly dysfunctional in recent years.

Mr Moolla replied that the point he was raising was that there was a need to look carefully at the proposed set of amendments before the Committee. It was not the case that there were no small-scale fishers in South Africa, and they were recognised by policy, although not in the MLRA. He had made it abundantly clear that he believed that amendments to the MLRA were long overdue and the Act required intensive redrafting. The presentation simply sought to inform Parliament what the view of FEIKE was on the amendments.

Mr Abram stated that there were some very interesting comments raised. He commented that when Mr Montague was speaking, he heard the concerns of an individual who was dependent on the sea, and it was actually those concerns that should be of great importance to the Committee. He corrected the interpreter and stated that Mr Montague said that fishers in his community were struggling every single day. He requested that Mr Engelbrecht explain exactly how the SACPFC intensified poverty experienced by people living in fishing communities and sought clarity on why close corporations or co-operatives were not functioning effectively and how it could possibly ignite the cycle of poverty. He requested that Mr Engelbrecht outline the effects thereof.

Mr Abram felt that Mr Garcia had made some very serious allegations to which the officials must respond. It would be necessary to try to find common ground. It was not appropriate to have any preconceptions before the public hearings, which were intended to allow all views to be aired to assist people in making up their minds. He noted that many issues raised by Ms Yon would have to be addressed by the Department as genuine concerns raised by the women in the industry.

Ms Phaliso agreed that these amendments were long overdue and transformation was the key to the challenges. From her perspective, she did not believe the policy was currently accommodating small-scale fishers, hence their outcry. Amendments were needed, to make changes relevant to the people. She further stressed the importance of including the voices of fishermen and women of fishing communities in the amendment bill since they had firsthand knowledge and experience of working in the fishing industry. She asserted there was a need for fishing communities to be collectively organised to guard against the exploitation of people working in the fishing industry. Ms Phaliso noted that the submissions raised questions about the marine resources and their sharing between all members of society. She agreed that there could not be guarantees on what would be in the ‘basket’, but there might be the possibility of looking at alternatives. COSATU’s presentation had agreed that transformation was necessary. She responded to Mr Ehrenreich’s comment on apartheid, in Afrikaans.

Mr M Cele (ANC) understood that this amendment Bill resulted from the public pleas to allow them to survive. He requested Mr Moolla to expand upon his comment on serious socio-economic consequences. He noted the comment on the Vietnamese experience, which should be revisited by the DAFF. He noted that the SAUFF presentation did not really contain anything substantive that the Committee could work on.

Mr Moolla repeated his concern that a simple replacement of all references to ‘subsistence’  with ‘small-scale’ would result in actually excluding the over 7 000 subsistence fishers who currently operated in Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, predominantly in the most rural areas. It was not appropriate to subsume them into the concept of small scale fishing, as this carried a host f administrative obligations such as levy payments and tax-return submissions, which they would be forced to take on. They also harvested fish that were of extremely low commercial value. He was arguing that the category of subsistence fishers be retained, and a new category for small-scale fishers must be added.

The Chairperson raised the issue of co-operatives and their experiences. Coastal Links seemed very keen to learn more about how communities structured around co-operatives actually lived.  

Ms Yon replied that co-operatives led to the continuation of the cycle of poverty, as people continued to not have food, work or shelter. Furthermore, co-operatives were unsuccessful because the rights were not vested in the people but rather in the co-operatives. When the co-operatives failed, the people were left with nothing.

Mr Engelbrecht commented that community quotas and cooperatives intensifed poverty in fishing communities. He referred to the situation in Elandsbaai to support his assertion by pointing out that one could easily observe the level of inequality between the managers of the fishing companies and its employees. Managers were able to provide for their families and their children could attend school and further their educational careers while the children of employees of such companies were not afforded the same rights. He further highlighted that many of the people were adversely affected by of some of the co-operatives due to the fact that many of them were left with nothing after these co-operatives collapsed. He was concerned that fishermen and women cannot further the education of their children and claimed that this trend further perpetuates the cycle of poverty.


Mr Joseph Claassen submission
Mr Joseph Classen presented in Afrikaans. The Committee translator said that Mr Claassen was a fisherman from Port Elizabeth who had been working in the industry for over 50 years. He said he had never benefited from any changes made by the government to legislation or the policies, and never received any real advantages or benefits from being a fisherman. He believed that the future of fishermen was “in the pockets of rich men”, as only select individuals benefited from the fishing industry. In his opinion, the efforts of the previous government were better than those of the current government. He had invested in the experimental white mussel system, and provided the Department with money, but never received any information on the results of the project. He requested that the white mussel programme be brought back and used as a tool to empower, in particular, women in the fishing industry.

Ibhayi Fishing submission
Mr Gavin Roberts stated that the previous presentations had to a large extent covered his issues. He noted that the current struggles faced by people were a direct result of the way policies were designed in the past, as they had benefited the rich but hurt the poor. However, the new policies and legislation had the possibility of succeeding, if they were supported fully by the fishing communities. The time had now come that everyone must reap the benefits of the sea and he hoped that this would be evident over the next five years.

Hottentots Holland Fisher’s Association (HOFA) submission
Mr Dullah Aziz, representative of HOFA, presented in both English and Afrikaans. He noted that the primary intention of government was initially to alleviate or eradicate poverty amongst the people and create jobs in the fishing communities. However, he said that in Helderberg, this created the opposite effect. He noted that HOFA did not object to the implementation of this Bill but felt that, because of the various constraints, more time would be needed to get the fishing communities to buy into this policy. He asked if it was still intended that the policy and plan should be implemented before the end of December 2013. 20 years ago, the Coloured communities had not receive any of the money promised to them and their scepticism of the current plan on the table was a result of those past experiences. He informed the Committee that the people of Helderberg had lost all faith in DAFF due to several cases of mistreatment and lack of delivery on promises. In conclusion, he stated that the people he was representing had had enough of the lies and mistreatments. He hoped that in the future, DAFF would recognise HOFA and would include it when initiating any new legislation, as well as including it in training projects.

Discussion
Ms Steyn was concerned about the allegations made towards DAFF by HOFA and asked Mr Aziz to provide the Committee with the name of the person so that the Committee could follow up. She wondered if Mr Aziz’s views were representative of the entire community and was also concerned that similar issues could be ongoing in other communities, but were left unsaid.

The Chairperson noted that there was certainly a trend arising in the submissions of the similar issues that arose from the Bill. He urged the need for Committee Members to pay visits and see the impacts first hand, particularly looking at the issue of co-operatives, and then report to the Committee on their findings.

Artisanal Fishers Association submission
Mr Andrew Johnston, Task Team Member, Artisanal Fishers Association, said that he had heard the comments about the economic aspects, but said that he believed the issues had nothing to do with economics. Instead, the vision of building communities and development within the communities was the main point, and this went much further than fishing. Furthermore, he argued that those who claimed to understand the history of the fishing industry were mistaken. That history had been much distorted in order to hide the real truth of oppression and dismantlement of rights. The MLRA had been based on the Individual Quota System, which was introduced to support the oppression of some people. It had resulted in extreme poverty and a society where the vulnerable fishers became fractured and disfranchised. He reinforced that there had been a skewed system of allocating fishing rights to non-deserving recipients, which was very problematic. During a previous discussion with Mr van Daalen, he had told Mr van Daalen that he was ignorant of what co-operatives meant to the fishing communities.

Mr Johnston went on to state that issues of governance, resource management and the implementation of policies within the fishing industry were of a major concern to the Association. He argued that South Africa’s situation strongly reflected the theory of path dependency within public policy, which outlined that actors in the policy process seldom engaged in fundamental policy changes but rather depended on existing knowledge and experience. Therefore, it was necessary to recognise the need for significant policy changes to the MLRA, so as to reverse its inequitable impacts. The overall essence of the policy should reflect that ‘fisheries management’ was not only about the management of the ocean’s resources and economic systems, but also the management of the people. It was thus imperative that customary rights be protected. Government must ensure that the turfs were properly implemented, managed and that there was compliance. In relation to co-operatives, there was a need to set up proper co-management, participatory management, capacity and vulnerable analysis, rapid rural appraisal, conflict resolution agencies, development agencies, social/economic/ environmental monitoring, monitoring, control and surveillance structure and, most importantly, a body that would be working in conjunction with the fishing communities.

Mr Johnston concluded that this was a defining moment for revolutionary changes to the fishing policy, which, if implemented properly, would transform human lives and conditions in South Africa. However, the problem of co-operatives within the fishing industry amongst the communities lay not in the system but in the people.  

Food & Allied Workers Union (FAWU) submission
Mr Mthunzi Mhlakane, National Organiser, FAWU, informed the Committee that FAWU believed that the SSF policy was the correct vehicle to transform fisheries for the better in South Africa. He stated that this particular policy would provide coastal communities with a sense of ownership through the community based legal entities. Furthermore, FAWU was satisfied that the SSF policy sought to advance the transformation agenda within the fishing industry and it was the opinion of FAWU that if this policy stipulation were realised, it would greatly transform the livelihood of coastal communities. FAWU was in full support of the five proposed amendments in the MLRA, as they would pave the way for the implementation of this policy. He appealed to Parliament to fast track this Bill, for the benefit of the communities.

West Coast Rock Lobster Association submission
The representative of the West Coast Rock Lobster Association said she was a long time member of the fishing community. She was well aware of the historical events and implications, having lived in Kalk Bay when the former government was implementing apartheid in that area. She therefore thanked the Committee for allowing all people to participate in the making of this new legislation. She expressed particular thanks to the Minister, who had approached the industry with great confidence. Although members of the fishing industry saw it as a priority, they had for many years been at the non-receiving end. non-receiving end. The current industry allocations ensured that big business had more product than any of the smaller players. She expressed concern that the whole coastal area was not being fished due to incorrect perceptions that there were not any fish in that area. Lastly, she requested that the Committee not repeat the same oppressive policies as the past but change policy so that everyone could reap the benefits of the marine resources.

Discussion
Mr van Dalen noted that legislators in Parliament had to be fair and could not take away rights from one group of people and give them to someone else. He wanted to know who was going to speak on behalf of the over 26 000 workers in the fishing industry. He urged people to accept that the ‘rights cake’ was not very large to begin with and only 10% of it was to be given to the small-scale fishing industry. However, that 10% had to be taken from someone else, as the ‘cake’ was not growing, and he was worried whose rights were to be infringed. He fully believed that the SSFs were deserving of rights, but said that a balancing act had be achieved, without raising false hopes.

Mr Johnston replied that there should be a focus on those whose livelihood was dependent on fishing.

Mr Abram stated that when government processed any law, there could often be unintended consequences. He said he was concerned that none of the responses had actually focused on the Bill itself and asked if the last three presenters were happy with the content of the Bill.

Ms Steyn was also concerned that there was uncertainty on how co-operatives would succeed, and asked the presenters if there were any other alternatives they wished to consider, that the Committee could consider.

Mr Johnston replied that the most important aspect of a co-operative was that its members had to take responsibility and were accountable for whatever results emerged. Training was a requirement in order for development of co-operatives.

The Chairperson thanked all the presenters for their input. He informed the Committee that the public hearings were to carry on the next day, when several more presenters would speak. The DAFF would also give its responses. Several important issues had been highlighted. Local economic development, customary and traditional rights were all of value and must be considered.


The meeting was adjourned.
 

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