Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on Proposed Accession to Three International Fisheries Bodies

NCOP Land and Mineral Resources

04 November 2014
Chairperson: Mr M Rayi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Select Committee on Land Reforms and Mineral Resources met to engage with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) on three International Agreements. The Deputy Director General (DDG), Fisheries Management, DAFF, presented on the Accession to three International Fisheries Bodies which are the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Blue Fin Tuna (CCSBT) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s (FAO’s) Port State Measures Agreement. The Marine Living Resources Act was promulgated in 1998 and it addresses the transformation and management of South Africa’s fisheries within South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). South Africa is a contracting party and member of several Regional Fisheries Organisations (RFMOs) whose broad objectives are the sustainable management of shared fish stocks in international waters. The Agreement for the establishment of IOTC, as an intergovernmental Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO), is mandated to manage tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean. The Commission for the Conservation for Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) is an intergovernmental organisation solely responsible for the management of the Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT). The Agreement on Port State Measures is to prevent, deter and eliminate Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The importance of DAFF acceding to the IOTC, CCSBT and Port State Measures are numerous. Some of which are:

  • cooperation among its Members with a view to ensuring the conservation & optimum utilization of stocks & encouraging sustainable development of fisheries based on such stocks
  • creation of a more secure environment for the development of the tuna longline fishery by creating greater access to fishing opportunities
  • creation of new jobs and improvement of the quality of jobs
  • provision of incentives for foreign fishing vessels to reflag
  • encouragement of the activation of rights by non-active right holders
  • allows South Africa table its concerns and influence the decisions taken at IOTC pertaining to the management of tuna and tuna-like resources in the Indian Ocean
  • improvement of South Africa’s negotiation position for more equitable southern bluefin quotas as all management decisions
  • a larger SBT quota would assist in stabilising the tuna fisheries
  • the prevention, deterrence and elimination of IUU fishing
  • protection of South Africa’s resources and markets by not allowing access for illegal fish products

The tuna longline fishery has the potential to become the third most economically important fishery in South Africa after the hake and small pelagic fisheries. The tuna longline fishery is one of the few fisheries in South Africa that has a realistic opportunity for growth in the short term, but it is largely dependent on the Government providing an enabling environment, through the accession to relevant conventions like IOTC and CCSBT. As far as acceding to the FAO’s Port State Measures is concerned, South Africa is seen as an important and strategically placed role player in the global attempt to combat IUU fisheries because South Africa is recognised as a globally important port state, which is already implementing most aspects of the Port State Measures Agreement. It was recommended that approval be granted for South Africa to accede to the Agreement for the Establishment of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) and the FAO’s Port State Measures (PSM) Agreement to prevent, deter & eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Members asked whether there was a National Legislative Framework that would enable the intended IOTC international agreement.  Members questioned what role DAFF was playing and what was currently in place regarding biodiversity management of the high seas? Members asked the Department whether it had the resources to enforce the Port State Measures. Members wanted to know what the estimated cost implication of the agreement would be.

The motion for the recommendation for the endorsement of the IOTC, CCSBT and the Port State Measures to the House was moved and seconded by members of the Committee. 

Meeting report

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) on the Proposed Accession to Three International Fisheries Bodies
Mr Mannya Mortimer, Deputy Director General (DDG), Fisheries Management, DAFF, gave the presentation on the Accession to three International Fisheries Bodies which are the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Blue Fin Tuna (CCSBT) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s (FAO’s) Port State Measures Agreement. The Marine Living Resources Act was promulgated in 1998 and it addresses the transformation and management of South Africa’s fisheries within South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). South Africa is a contracting party and member of several Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) whose broad objectives are the sustainable management of shared fish stocks in international waters. South Africa has a well-established fishery sector which is seen as an important means to address food security, job creation and economic growth. South Africa’s accession to the IOTC, CCSBT Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMO’s) & Port State Measures Agreement would address some key governmental imperatives for fisheries and allow South Africa negotiate larger quotas that would have positive economic benefits for the sector.

The importance of DAFF acceding to the IOTC is numerous. The Agreement for the establishment of IOTC as an intergovernmental, Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO), is mandated to manage tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean. Its objective is to promote cooperation among its Members with a view to ensuring the conservation & optimum utilization of stocks & encouraging sustainable development of fisheries based on such stocks. South Africa’s longline fishing effort for tuna was originally developed in the Atlantic in 1998, but has since 2002 expanded to include the Indian Ocean. Currently, most of the South African longline fishing effort is focused in the Indian Ocean where catch rates are higher. As a Co-operating Non-Contracting (CNC) Party, South Africa is obligated to adhere to all management and conservation measures of the IOTC, including data reporting, as required by all Member Parties and apply for its CNC status to be renewed each year. As a CNC, South Africa is not allowed to table any proposals or vote on any conservation and management measures adopted by IOTC. These factors create large uncertainty in securing long-term access rights for South Africa’s vessels to fish for tuna in the Indian Ocean. Furthermore, acceding to the IOTC Agreement would create a more secure environment for the development of the tuna longline fishery by creating greater access to fishing opportunities. This would promote the creation of new jobs, contribute to improving the quality of existing employment in the sector, provide incentives for foreign fishing vessels to reflag and encourage the activation of rights by non-active right holders. Full membership to the IOTC could increase the tuna fishery from a R150 million industry to a R600 million industry in foreign currency. Full membership of the IOTC would also allow South Africa table its concerns and influence the decisions taken at IOTC pertaining to the management of tuna and tuna-like resources in the Indian Ocean. The IOTC annual financial membership contribution for South Africa is estimated to be US$30 000 - US$35 000 based on current catches. South Africa is already a long-standing and important member of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which plays a similar role to the IOTC but which manages the Atlantic Ocean tuna resources.

The presentation further enumerated the importance of acceding to the Commission for the Conservation for Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT). The CCSBT is an intergovernmental organisation solely responsible for the management of the Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT). SBT is a high value commodity specie and is the most valuable fish species occurring in SA’s EEZ. This species is fished by 9 fishing nations, namely Japan, Australia, Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, New Zealand, Philippines, EU, and South Africa. South Africa is currently a Co-operating Non-Contracting party of CCSBT and as such does not have any voting power in adopting conservation and management measures or negotiating country allocations. Consequently, South Africa has only been allocated a small quota of 40 tons, which accounts for less than 0.5% of the global TAC for this developing tuna longline fishery. South Africa by virtue of its geographic position is the world’s most important port state for this species. Hence, South Africa has been recognised by Member Parties of CCSBT as an important role-player in the management of this resource within the Commission. Acceding to CCSBT would greatly improve South Africa’s negotiation position for more equitable southern bluefin quotas as all management decisions, including country allocations, are based on 100% consensus by member parties. A larger SBT quota would assist in stabilising the tuna fisheries, create new jobs, improve the quality of jobs, provide incentives for foreign vessels to reflag, and increase foreign revenue. CCSBT has offered an initial increase in South Africa’s quota from the current 40 t to 80 t in 2013 and 150 t in 2014 subject to South Africa acceding to the Convention. Full membership to the tuna RFMOs including the CCSBT can make the difference between a R150 million industry and a R600 million industry in foreign currency. The CCSBT annual financial membership contribution for South Africa is estimated to be AU$72 235 based on an 80 t allocation for 2013, which is worth approximately R12 million in foreign exchange. South Africa is already a long-standing and important member of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which serves a similar role as CCSBT, but for the Atlantic Ocean tuna resources.

The importance of acceding to Port State Measures are many. Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is a global threat to sustainable fisheries and to the management and conservation of fisheries resources and marine biodiversity. As a tool to combat IUU fishing, the importance of enhanced port state control has increasingly gained ground throughout the last decennium. The Agreement on Port State Measures to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing was approved by the FAO Conference at its 36th Session on 22 November 2009. The Agreement aims to prevent illegally caught fish from entering international markets through ports. Establishing a network of ports adopting port state measures is regarded as the most cost-effective means of combating IUU fishing. To date there are 23 signatories to the FAO’s Port State Measures including Angola, Australia, Benin, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the European Union, France, Gabon, Ghana, Iceland, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, the Russian Federation, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Turkey, United States of America and Uruguay. South Africa is considered to be the most import port state in the region with over 800 foreign fishing vessel visitations in some years, representing over 30 flag states. By acceding to the FAO’s Port State Measures (PSM) Agreement to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing Agreement, South Africa will be part of an international and joint effort in combating IUU. In so doing, SA will protect its resources and markets by not allowing access for illegal fish products often threatening the livelihood of SA’s national fishing industry. South Africa by virtue of its engagement and obligations to RFMOs has already implemented many aspects of port state measures since 2007. South Africa is a long standing member of the FAO and therefore there are no financial implications in acceding to the FAO’s Port State Measures Agreement.

Conclusively, the tuna longline fishery has the potential to become the third most economically important fishery in South Africa after the hake and small pelagic fisheries. It also has the greatest potential to provide new jobs in the fishing sector in the short-term. The tuna longline fishery is one of the few fisheries in South Africa that has a realistic opportunity for growth in the short term, but it is largely dependent on the Government providing an enabling environment, through the accession to relevant conventions like IOTC and CCSBT. As far as acceding to the FAO’s Port State Measures is concerned, South Africa is seen as an important and strategically placed role player in the global attempt to combat IUU fisheries because South Africa is recognised as a globally important port state, which is already implementing most aspects of the Port State Measures Agreement. It was recommended that approval be granted for South Africa to accede to the Agreement for the Establishment of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) and the FAO’s Port State Measures (PSM) Agreement to prevent, deter & eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Discussion
The Chairperson questioned whether the term “acceding” meant the same as applying for a full membership and invited members to engage with DAFF on the presentation.

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)
Ms C Labuschagne (DA) questioned how realistic the benefits highlighted were with respect to the challenges of lack of biodiversity management agreements for the large part of the high seas, the lack of success in implementing regional fisheries management efforts and a slow transition towards an effective market control. 

Ms E Prins (ANC) asked whether there was a National Legislative Framework to enable the intended international agreement. 

Mr Mortimer replied that when the initial members agree to establish a regional fisheries management organisation and the decision is ratified, the people who make a decision to join later on as members after the organisation had been in existence, do so through an accession. One of the reasons that DAFF would want to be a full member is that, when allocations were made, DAFF would be not only be able to make inputs but would also be able to negotiate and participate. It would also be an opportunity to grow the industry by growing South Africa’s quota and also an opportunity to be a part of the global community of protecting the available resources in the biodiversity. If SA is not a member, then it would not be able to make meaningful contributions because of its limited participation. SA is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea which defines the right and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the wealth of the ocean and it establishes guidelines for the business, and environment of marine resources.  
 
The Chairperson reiterated Ms Prins’ question as to whether there was an Act that could empower the international agreement or does the legislative framework follow the international endorsement.

Responding, Ms Marisa Kashorte, Policy Analyst: International Fisheries, DAFF said that SA is guided by its National and domestic legislation which is the Marine Living Resources Act. The way forward was to check whether these agreements were in line with SA’s domestic legislations .The Department’s Chief Law Advisers both from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Department of International Regulations and Co operations which assist with all international domestic laws and gave the Department legal opinions so that international agreements would not be an infringement to SA’s domestic laws would be utilized. 

Mr L Gaehler (UDM) questioned why the full memberships of both the Tuna and the Blue Fin Tuna were rated equally from a R150 million industry to a R600 million industry in foreign currency. Why were the amounts the same?

Ms Labuschagne asked what role that DAFF is playing and what was currently in place regarding biodiversity management of the high seas? How does Pacisha Doftail project work with the agreement? Were there areas for concern or not?
 
Responding, Mr Mortimer said that the Parchisha deals with both marine and fresh water. The ACO Culture Development is intended to supplement on the wild stocks because of both declining trend and the growing demand. The figures given on the Tuna is the total estimation of the industry but it is determined by the allocation and the ruling price at the moment. The most important thing was to get the quota and the prices which changed from time to time.

Ms Kashorte added that SA is a member of the National Convention of Biodiversity (CBD) and it is managed by the Department of Environmental Affairs. The Regional Fisheries Management Organisation establishes management measures in the management of fish stocks. Careful consideration is taken on environmental factors as well as on utilisation of the resources and its impact.

The Chairperson read out the statement that portrayed the decision of the Select Committee which would be the recommendation that would be presented to the House as the approval for the establishment of the agreement of the IOTC in terms of Section 231 subsection 2 of the Constitution.

Mr L Gaehler (UDM) moved the motion for the recommendation for the endorsement of the IOTC to the House; it was seconded by Ms E Prins (ANC).

The Commission for the Conservation for Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT)
Ms Labuschagne stated that it was a known fact that the Blue Fin Tuna is an important specie that has historically been overexploited; is SA geared to develop an implementable conservative fishery management in order to ensure that the stock is growing? Does the Department have a budget for that and how much is the budget? The Blue Fin Tuna is known for reproducing in only one area, does SA have an area like that. Where is the nearest area?     

Mr Gaehler inquired on the growing stocks of the Blue Tuna. Would there be any breeding of the stock? If there would, what role would the emerging sector play?

Mr Mortimer replied that if the Port State Measures is implemented, it would have no negative impact on small scale fisheries since they do not fish on the high seas.  Majority of those that engage in illegal fishing were well resourced and have sophisticated vessels. These measures would ensure that overtime the country’s resources would be protected. The Department did not foresee any negative impact from implementing these measures. The Department has a research component that enables it gather all the information it requires through stock assessments for example and it participates internationally with other members to gather information or give information that is used holistically by the Regional Fisheries Management Organisation. On the issue of the breeding of the Blue Tuna Fish, because the breeding take place offshore, there would be no breeding problems; however, what the Department would be monitoring largely would be the stock levels, how they are utilized and protected.
  
Ms Kashorte reiterated that there is a research component at the Department that assists the stock assessment as well as the data; this is because SA has a core operating non-contesting party status as such data reporting is imminent. A researcher had been appointed in the Department, dedicated to dealing with the RFMO for the past four years, though the capacity in this regard could be improved, it was still at a very good level.

The Chairperson read out the statement that portrayed the decision of the Select Committee which would be the recommendation that would be presented to the House as the approval for the establishment of the agreement of the CCSBT in terms of section 231 subsection 2 of the Constitution.  

Ms Prins moved the motion for the recommendation of the endorsement of the CCSBT to the House; it was seconded by Ms M Matebus (EFF).
 
Food and Agricultural Organisation’s (FAO’s) Port State Measures Agreement
Ms Labuschagne asked that notwithstanding the fact that there may be no financial implication for signing the agreement and that it was logical to curb illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, did DAFF have the resources to introduce such measures? Could the Department give the Committee a breakdown of the current resources needed to institute such measures? The Department could provide the response in writing to the Committee at a later date if the response was not available now.  

Mr C Smit (DA) wanted to know what the estimated implication cost of the agreement would be.

Mr Gaehler asked whether there were other arrangements with other international countries to monitor the shores and what the cost implications of this would be.

Mr Mortimer responded that the Port State Measures were already being implemented because other fisheries management organisations had certain requirements that SA must comply with. South Africa had been complying and reporting as is expected.  DAFF’s current capabilities although not the best, were not the worst in Africa. The SA Maritime Safety Authority would be assisting the Department in two areas: the first was to work with DAFF on the engineering capacity and long term management of the Vessel, and secondly to take over the function that was being carried out in repairs until the tender was back in place. The small boats were still used in between and SA had successfully kept its compliance function in check. Currently, SA has confiscated, prosecuted and forfeited seven foreign vessels to the state. Although the resources available to DAFF were minimal, it had been doing its best with the limited resources available. There is a Vessel Monitoring System that guides SA’s Vessels. There are staffs currently inspecting on land and in the sea. SA has partnerships with SADEC countries and at determined periods, SA gets involved in joint operations within the Southern framework. More resources are needed to get the Surveillance Aircraft so as to strengthen the Ocean Safety. At the moment, DAFF is enhancing its capacity by employing more people and procuring better technology.             

The Deputy Director, Monitoring & Surveillance of DAFF reiterated the comments made by Mr Mortimer. With regards to the Aircraft and the Vessel Monitoring System, the Department has it in-house but also expends its current capabilities by combining its efforts. DAFF collaborates with other governmental Institutions like the Department of Transport, the SA Maritime Safety Authority and the SA National Defence Force. All these collaborations have ensured so many successes in the past that SA is rated the only country ever to have apprehended a total of seven Vessels in a year. INTERPOL looks at SA with great regard based on these incidences. DAFF carries out joint operations with the SA Defence force where DAFF utilizes an offshore Aircraft which is manned by DAFF officials.   

The Chairperson requested further clarity on the processes or consultations that DAFF had been involved in before presenting the agreements to the Select Committee.

Ms Kashorte replied that the processes followed regarding the agreements before coming to the Select Committee had been very lengthy, few of which were: visibility studies taken which came out in 2011, legal opinions from the State Law Advisers of the Department of Justice & Constitutional Development so as to be sure that SA could accede to the international agreements and that it did not go against the domestic laws of SA. Cabinet approval was obtained August 2013 through the previous administration. DAFF is hopeful to receive approval from the Parliament which would subsequently facilitate the rest of the process to ensure that the instruments were deposited at the Secretariat.    

The Chairperson proceeded to read out the statement that portrayed the decision of the Select Committee which would be the recommendation that would be presented to the House as the approval for the establishment of the agreement of the FAO’s Port State Measures Agreement in terms of section 231 subsection 2 of the Constitution.  

Mr Gaehler moved the motion for the recommendation of the endorsement of the FAO’s Port State Measures Agreement to the House and it was seconded by Ms B Masango (DA).

The Chairperson requested that the Department submitted all the responses given to the questions asked by Members to the Committee Secretary in writing.

The Chairperson appreciated the DDG and the Team from DAFF and assured that the Select Committee would take the processes forward by recommending the adoption of the three agreements to the House.

Adoption of the Minutes of the 28 October 2014
The Chairperson asked Members whether there were omissions or corrections in the minutes. With no omissions or corrections, the Chairperson requested Members to move for the adoption of the minute.
 
Ms Prins moved the motion for the adoption of the minutes which was seconded by Mr E Mlambo (ANC).

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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