Smallscale Fisheries Policy Implementation Plan; Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP); Fisheries research capacity & research vessels status report; International Fisheries Agreements

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

17 March 2015
Chairperson: Ms M Semenya (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The rollout plan for the implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy is looking at executing the policy over a five-year period it identifies roles and responsibilities and key dependencies needed to make the plan see the light of the day. The Policy commenced with the launch of the Small-Scale Fisheries Forum, the gazetting of the draft Regulations for Public Comment and call for Expressions of Interest. The Policy was adopted in 2012 and its Implementation Plan was approved in 2013. One of the key milestone dates was the allocation of small-scale fishing rights in December 2013, and then it was revised in June 2014. The roll-out plan was developed in April 2014 and was presented at various structures within the Department.

The rollout plan consists of five phases:

  • Preparatory Phase
  • Development of Support Plans
  • Formalisation of Small-Scale Fishing Communities into co-operatives
  • Allocation of Fishing Rights to Small-Scale Fishing Co-operatives
  • Management and support of Small-Scale Fishing Co-operatives

The high point of the rollout plan is the allocation of small-scale fishing rights in March 2016.

The Committee was briefed about the Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) 2013 and 2015. It heard that the previous Minister of DAFF had set aside FRAP 2013 because the process had unlawful decision-making and un-procedural conduct and perceptions of irregularities and manipulation. The findings on FRAP 2013 pointed to a political apathy and lack of leadership from national government; clarity of policies and governance structure; and numerous operational gaps including lack of proper planning and insufficient good business processes. The General Policy and Sector Specific Policies have not been reviewed; and the R20 million allocated for the rights allocation was insufficient.

In preparation for the Fishing Rights Allocation Process, the Department would embark on a Policy Review and Public Participation Process, which would result in the publication of 9 Fisheries Sector Specific Policies.

It was highlighted that adequate human and financial resources are critical for the successful delivery of FRAP. The Chief Directorate on Marine Resources Management is responsible for the Fishing Rights Allocation Process and is expected to commit dedicated officials for the successful implementation of FRAP. The budget for FRAP 2015/16 would be utilised to pay for services that may be rendered by the service provider to the Department; and it would be used to develop and improve systems that are credible for rights allocations.

The targets set for FRAP 2015 include the review and revision of the nine sector specific policies; development of application forms and schedules for nine fishing sectors; finalisation of the sector specific policies and application forms; and receipt of appeals in the nine fishing sectors.

Members, on the rollout plan, wanted clarity on the composition of the Small-Scale Fisheries Steering Committee; asked what role the Small-Scale Fisheries Forum would play and if it would allow the fishers to get their stock to the markets; what languages are going to be used in the dissemination of information; and to establish how the Department is going to ensure that draft regulations are finalised before the Act comes into force; and remarked that the policy focuses only on co-operatives and does not create space for individuals who would like to apply for fishing rights.

Concerning FRAP, Members proposed that the Department should consider making the Appeals Committee a statutory body so as to boost the credibility of the work the Department has been doing; wanted to know about the stock status, and the real story of Africana because they were told Africana would be sailing by the end of February 2015; and the kind of people who are going to be on the Appeals Committee.

Meeting report

Small-Scale Fisheries Policy
Mr Mortimer Mannya, Deputy Director-General on Fisheries, DAFF, informed the Committee the implementation that the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy commenced with the launch of the Small-Scale Fisheries Forum, the gazetting of the draft Regulations for Public Comment and the call for Expressions of Interest – all of which took place on 27 February 2015.

The Small-Scale Fisheries Policy (SSFP) was adopted in 2012 and its Implementation Plan was approved in 2013. One of the key milestone dates was the allocation of small-scale fishing rights in December 2013, and then it was revised in June 2014. The Roll-out Plan was developed in April 2014 and was presented at various structures within the Department.

The new rollout plan aims to implement the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy over a five-year period and also identifies roles and responsibilities and key dependencies required to implement the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy. The high point of the rollout plan is the allocation of small-scale fishing rights in March 2016. The process consists of five phases.

Phase 1: Preparatory Phase
This phase lays a firm foundation in order to embark on the process of implementing the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy. The activities in this phase, amongst others, include:

Budget and business planning
Approval of a new roll-out plan for the implementation of SSFP
Establishment of a Steering Committee
Dissemination of the new roll-out plan
Establishment of the Small-Scale Fisheries Forum

To date, the implementation of the SSFP is included as a strategic goal for DAFF over the medium term (2014/15 – 2018/19). Funds from the Marine Living Resources Fund were made available for the start of the implementation process for 2014/15. The Small-Scale Fisheries Steering Committee was established in 2014 and meetings are convened monthly. The Small-Scale Fisheries Forum was launched on 27 February 2015. The Final Regulations and Marine Living Resources Act Amendment Act is to be promulgated on May 2015. The Minister has approved the publishing of draft regulations for public comment and was gazetted on 27 February 2015. The Director-General approved the bid process to appoint service providers for the rollout plan. The Bid Adjudicating Committee approved the recommendation to appoint two service providers and a Service Level Agreement is to be signed during March 2015.

Phase 2: Development of Support Plans
This phase requires that a number of support plans be developed and implemented so as to enhance the implementation process of the SSFP. Key plans, amongst others, include:

Sector management measures
Co-operative model
Co-operative constitution template
Co-operative management plan template
Communication plan
Stakeholder engagement plan

Sector management measures have been drafted. Co-operative models have been investigated with input from selected communities. The co-operative constitution template has been developed with assistance from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The communication and stakeholder engagement plans have been discussed at Steering Committee meetings. The revenue management plan has been developed with assistance from the DTI and Co-operatives and Rural Economic Development (DAFF).

Phase 3: Formalisation of small-scale fishing communities into co-operatives
This phase is the most critical one for the successful allocation of small-scale fishing rights because it is in this phase where all bona fide small-scale fishers have to be identified, verified and registered into small-scale fishing communities. This phase includes the following activities:

Registration of expression of interest per community
Verification of fishers and identification of small-scale fishing communities
Conducting socio-economic baseline study of the entire sector
Conducting alternative livelihoods study per area
Registration of small-scale fishing communities as co-operatives

Phase 4: Allocation of fishing rights to small-scale fisheries co-operatives
This phase is the pinnacle of the implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy as this would be the official start of the small-scale fisheries sector when the fishing rights are allocated to small-scale fishing co-operatives in March 2016. Activities include:

Approval of registered co-operatives as small-scale fisheries co-operatives by the Minister
Business training of all co-operative board members
Allocation of fishing rights
Issuing of permits
Finalisation of appeals

Phase 5: Management and support of small-scale fisheries co-operatives
This is the last phase of the implementation and requires three years of providing developmental support to the small-scale fishing co-operatives. This phase is required to ensure economic development and long-term success of the co-operatives. Key activities include:

Facilitation of developmental programmes per co-operative in partnership with other organisations
Meetings of co-management structures
Routine management of the sector
Implementation and refinement of monitoring control and surveillance and catch monitoring plans
Review success of implementation by conducting another socio-economic study and comparing to baseline study

FRAP 2013 and 2015
Mr Mannya informed Members that the previous Minister set aside FRAP 2013 and instituted an audit by Harris, Nupen and Molebatsi Attorneys in February 2014. The process was found to have been controversial, rotten with allegations and perceptions of irregularities, manipulation, and unlawful decision-making and un-procedural conduct.

Subsequent to FRAP 2013, the Emang Basadi Legal and Forensic Services was appointed to conduct a review and assessment of the capacity and work processes in the department, including line and support functions, business processes, and external support required to ensure that the Department is prepared and has the necessary capacity to commence and finalise the fishing rights allocation processes (corrective actions of FRAP 2013 and FRAP 2015/16).

The findings on FRAP 2013 pointed to a political apathy and lack of leadership from national government; clarity of policies and governance structure; and numerous operational gaps including lack of proper planning and insufficient good business processes. It was also found that the General Policy and Sector Specific Policies have not been reviewed; and the R20 million allocated for the rights allocation was insufficient.

The Harris Report made recommendations, which the Emang Basadi validated. Since the setting aside of FRAP 2013, the Department has not dealt with the appeals or the review of the allocations. The Emang Basadi recommended the Minister to appoint an independent Appeals Board led by a senior attorney or advocate to deal with the backlog of FRAP 2013.

FRAP 2015 and processes
In preparation for the Fishing Rights Allocation Process, the Department would embark on a Policy Review and Public Participation Process that would result in the publication of 9 Fisheries Sector Specific Policies.

To successfully deliver the credible Fishing Rights Allocation Process, the recommendation by Emang Basadi was that the Minister should in terms of section 18 6A (a) of the MLRA exempt current right holders in order to extend their rights for a period of 12 months while the Department puts in place credible processes for allocations. Fishing rights in some of the fishing sectors are going to expire between 28 February and 31 December 2015.

Mr Mannya emphasised that adequate human resources is critical for the successful delivery of FRAP. Though the Fishing Rights Allocation Process is the Fisheries Branch mandate, it is, however, the core function of the Chief Directorate on Marine Resources Management. FRAP is said to be contributing significantly to the revenue of the Fisheries Branch. The Chief Directorate on Marine Resources Management is expected to commit dedicated officials for the successful implementation of FRAP and they would have to ‘vacate’ their daily duties in order to fully focus on successful implementation of FRAP. This would add a burden on certain officials who would have to ensure that service delivery is not crippled. Over and above FRAP, the Implementation Plan of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy would run concurrently and it is envisaged that 40 contract workers would be required for a period of 12 to 18 months.

On the issue of financial resources, the budget for FRAP 2015/16 would be utilised to pay for services that may be rendered by the service provider to the Department; and it would be used to develop and improve systems that are credible for rights allocations. The funds are needed for processes such as gazetting, legal services, vetting, public consultations, printing of application forms and sector policies in four coastal languages, distribution and receipting of application forms, and manning of the FRAP call centre and general communication. It is envisaged that overtime may exceed 30% limit of the basic salary of employees. In order to meet the tight deadlines, it is envisioned that overtime would be necessary. The estimated budget based on the Project Plan is R45 million against a current deficit of R16 million.

Finally, the targets set for FRAP 2015 include the review and revision of the nine sector specific policies; development of application forms and schedules for nine fishing sectors; finalisation of the sector specific policies and application forms; and receipt of appeals in the nine fishing sectors.

(The Committee was taken through a visual slide presentation on the status of the research vessels)

Discussion
Roll-out Plan Presentation
Mr T Ramokhoase (ANC) asked for clarity on the composition of the Small-Scale Fisheries Steering Committee, and what languages are going to be used in the dissemination of information.

Mr Mannya replied that the committee comes from the Department and draws from various components of the fisheries sector and communities. On languages, documents are going to be in isiXhosa, isiZulu, Afrikaans and English because those are the languages of the coastal communities. Already, stakeholder engagements and road shows have been started in coastal provinces and information has been communicated in media including printed messages to inform community representatives and traditional leaders in order to take ownership of the project.

Mr P Mabe (ANC) asked about the role the Small-Scale Fisheries Forum would play and if it would allow the fishers to get their stock to the markets. He also suggested the documents of the policy be not translated into the languages of the coastal areas only, and enquired about measures that would be taken to ensure the understanding of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy is widely known even in inland areas.

Mr Mannya explained the Department would continue to engage with the forum and that the forum is an advisory body, not a decision making body. On taking the policy inland, he indicated the Department has noted the language concern and would consider taking it further to a national level in its efforts to make the public aware of the policy.

Mr C Maxegwana (ANC) commented that the small-scale fisheries sector is a game-changer in the economy of the country especially if it is done correctly and there would be many changes in the lives of ordinary people staying in these coastal towns. Co-operatives in these coastal towns, especially rural ones, are going to need a thorough training in order to participate in the economy and consideration should be taken on the different species available in these different areas.

Mr Mannya acknowledged that the Department is well aware of the fact that training in coastal rural areas is going to double if literacy levels are taken into consideration.

Ms Z Jongbloed (DA) asked how the Department is going to ensure that draft regulations are finalised before the Act comes into force; and how the Department is going to roll out the plan when there are already budget cuts. She enquired about the names of the consultants who would be working on the roll-out and the amount of money allocated to them.

Mr Mannya said the Department is working towards finalising the regulations before the Act comes into force but the process is taking its time because the Department wants to ensure there are no uncertainties on fishing and it wants to do things right. Regarding rollout resources and budget cuts, he explained that resources have been taken from the directorates and the Department is going to continue to do with the little it has and it is not going to wait until it has enough money. Concerning consultants, the bidding process has been done but they do not have the names of the successful bidders, the bidders would be contracted over a three-year period.

The Chairperson then asked if the co-operatives that are going to be established in these coastal towns are going to take into account the presence of youth and women.

Mr Mannya elaborated that with the meagre resources they had, the young and women are encouraged to take part so that they contribute to the economy.

Ms A Steyn (DA) remarked that the policy focuses only on co-operatives and does not create space for individuals who would like to apply for fishing rights.

Mr Mannya explained that they have looked at the feasibility and practicality of dealing with co-operatives. It is impossible and hard to deal with plus minus 7000 individuals, but it is better to deal with a community that is registered as a co-operative. The Department still needs to think thoroughly about the issue of individuals.

Ms Jongbloed wanted to know if the Department is giving the communities guidance on basket of species and demarcated areas for fishing to make sure they are not fishing only for the table, but for subsistence.

Mr Mannya replied in the affirmative and stated that the Department is also guided by the guidance provided by the communities.

Mr Mabe suggested the Minister should consider media partnerships that could be entered into that do not require money in order to disseminate information to the communities.

The Chairperson proposed that the Minister should consider making use of community radio stations in order to communicate directly with the targeted communities.

FRAP 2013 and 2015 Presentation
Mr Mabe advised the Department to consider making the Appeals Committee a statutory body so as to boost the credibility of the work the Department has been doing and do away with suspicions.

Mr Ramokhoase stated that the Department is not saying how it is going to remedy the problem of retiring scarce skills yet it is a very serious matter.

Mr Maxegwana supported Mr Ramokhoase by asking whether there is a plan of succession in place and if there is a presence of young people in the research teams.

Mr Mannya explained that thirty young people were sent to Norway for training on the management services of fisheries. Sixteen of them are still with the Department. He indicated that Namibia and Angola have stopped using consultants. They use internal capacity. Now the Department intends to work with Namibia so that it seconds people to the Department and, in turn, the Department takes two locals to Namibia for upskilling.  That is something the Department should be doing on an on-going basis.

The Department is spending R3 million on each individual and is prepared to approach Norway again on the matter of training scientists in the management services of fisheries. In addition, young scientists are being mentored, but the money available for the implementation of the succession plan is something the Department should thoroughly think about.

Mr Mabe asked about relations the Department has struck with the institutions of higher learning. He suggested the government should introduce customised courses to make students aware of the fisheries sector, and even consider making use of SETAs.

Mr Mannya stated there are three universities the Department has agreements with and that SETAs like AgriSeta would be considered.

Ms T Gasebonwe-Tongwane asked why the budget cut for research amounted to 60%.

Mr Mannya said the Department has had the same budget every year, but keeps on loading a number of activities. That is why there has been no movement on certain items.

Ms Steyn voiced concern about the timeframes for the policy implementation. She proposed that the time for people to make comments should be extended because it does not seem the Department has time to put critical things into place. The Department should be realistic about timeframes. It should rather take its time on the MLRA to make sure it is doing the right thing. She further suggested that the Appeals Committee be established immediately because there are still outstanding land claims and it is not advisable to open new land claims until the old ones are settled.

Ms Jongbloed wanted to know about the stock status, and the real story of Africana because during the oversight visit they were told Africana would be sailing by the end of February 2015.

Mr Mannya said a report about stock status would be sent to the Committee; and on Africana, information would be furnished once the operational analysis has been received from SAMSA on readiness of Africana to take to the ocean. The vessel is now in East London for repairs and service.

Ms Steyn enquired who is responsible for the research when the vessels are not in motion. She also asked the Department to furnish the Committee with the Smit Amandla and Sekunjalo Reports in order to find out if the recommendations of the Public Protector have been followed.

Mr Mannya said the Department is responsible for the research, but SAMSA looks after the vessels. The Smit Amandla and Sekunjalo Reports would be sent to the Committee.

Mr Maxegwana asked about the kind of people who are going to be on the Appeals Committee.

Mr Mabe stated that the Minister should consider a public nomination process on the people who are going to constitute the Appeals Committee.

Mr Mannya said the Department has noted the suggestion that the process should be transparent and be led by a senior advocate and have stakeholder representatives who have knowledge of the industry.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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