The Department of Environmental Affairs introduced the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Amendment Bill to the Committee. This Bill had been initiated and tabled in 2013 and was approved in the National Assembly in November 2013. The Bill essentially split out fisheries and environmental functions in respect of marine protected areas, and clarified mandatory functions of the Departments of Environmental Affairs and of Fisheries, and now incorporated the management of marine protected areas in the environmental protected areas regime. The Committee was taken briefly through the amendments, which effectively now defined the systems, empowered the Minister to make and withdraw notifications on marine protected areas, and set out the manner of doing so. There was provision for regulation of activities in marine protected areas. The Bill also provided for consultation with stakeholders, and finally “tidied” up the Marine Living Resources Act.
Members had a few questions of clarity on the Bill, which related to the delay of the finalisation of the Bill, whether the Bill would impact on existing workforce or its size, and if there were likely to be any difficulties around the mandate, and whether the Departments would be required to work together. The Department was asked, for the record, to submit its responses also in writing. The Bill was unanimously adopted by the Committee without any further amendment.
Members also adopted minutes of 28 February 2014 without amendments.
National Environment Management: Protected Areas Amendment Bill [B28B]: Department of Environmental Affairs briefing
Ms Nicolette de Kock, Deputy Director: Legal Services, Department of Environmental Affairs, briefed the Committee on the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Amendment Bill (the Bill). She said that the Bill was Bill was tabled in Parliament in May 2013, adopted by the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs on 29 November 2013, and approved in the National Assembly on 13 November 2013. The Bill had split the fisheries and environmental functions of protected areas, each to be administered by the relevant department in control of the sector. She explained that previously, the Marine Living Resources Act had not included environmental management as a key objective.
The amendments now effected included incorporation of the management of marine protected areas in the protected areas regime. There was management of systems if the Bill, for other protected areas, by, firstly, including them in the definitions. Secondly, the Minister would be empowered to declare and withdraw notification on protected areas. There were criteria provided for this. The Bill also aimed to keep existing marine protected areas (MPA) alive. The Bill provided for regulation of the activities in those areas. There would be consultation with stakeholders, particularly the Minister of Fisheries, and the Management Agencies. Finally, the marine protected areas provisions would be moved out of the Marine Living Resources Act.
Ms de Kock went on to present amendments effected clause by clause (see attached presentation for full details).
Mr M Makhubela (COPE, Limpopo) applauded the amendments but asked the reasons why there was such a delay in the finalisation of the Bill.
Mr Ishaam Abader, Deputy Director-General: Legal Authorisation and Compliance Inspectorate, Department of Environmental Affairs, noted that the delays arose as a result of the consultative processes between the two Departments, who had also developed a policy before the amendments could be effected.
Ms N Magadla (ANC, KwaZulu Natal) sought clarity on whether there was, owing to the amendment of the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act and the Marine Living Resources Act, a possibility of either losing or creating new jobs.
Mr Abader assured Members that there would be no adverse effect upon the existing staff. The intention of the Bill was merely to solve the inconsistencies in the MPAs.
Mr M Mokgobi (ANC, Limpopo) asked whether there would be any integration and cooperation between the two Departments in terms of implementation of the Bill.
Mr Abader replied that the Bill explicitly specified the functionary mandate of the Department of Fisheries and the Department of Environmental Affairs. He explained again that the Bill just formalised what should be done by the two departments. In doing so, there would be no implications that would severely affect implementers. On the ground, the departmental agents would continue to work as usual, although the final reporting back would be done to a different department. In addition, each Department would have its own budget to ensure an appropriate implementation of the Bill.
The Chairperson asked that the Department should submit its responses in writing to the Committee.
The Bill was unanimously adopted by the Committee without further amendment.
Consideration and adoption of the Committee minutes of 28 February 2014
The minutes were adopted without amendment.
The meeting was adjourned.
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