International Tuna Fishing Agreements: briefing; Committee Report on Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries Budget 2015

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

08 May 2015
Chairperson: Ms M Semenya (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

One Southern Bluefin Tuna from the South African waters was sold for R20 million in Japan. Unfortunately, South Africa did not make money from the transaction.The Fisheries Management Division of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) tabled this revelation before the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries when it was briefing the Committee about its international fishing agreements.

The presentation was an attempt to address concerns the Committee raised regarding the matter and to assist it to consider the request of DAFF for South Africa to accede to the Fisheries Agreements. The three agreements in question are: Agreement for the Establishment of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) and the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA).

 

It was reported that no amendments have taken place in all three agreements since the State Law Advisors reviewed them and the initial opinion given remains the property of the Departments of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJCD) and International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). The opinion states that the three Fisheries Agreements are not in conflict with South African law.

Acceding to the IOTC and CCSBT Agreements would provide direct benefit to the economy of South Africa and indirect benefit to vulnerable groups. It is believed this would create jobs and improve the quality of jobs from seasonal to permanent. The PSMA is striving to create a network of port states to fight the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU) and these would serve to provide additional protection of marine resources of Africa from being plundered by foreign IUU vessels. Reduced IUU would increase the amount of marine resources to be used by South African in general.

On the importance for South Africa to accede to CSSBT and IOTC, current figures reveal that South Africa has around 230 vessels in the Large Pelagic (163 tuna pole and 50 long-line). The long-line fishery creates around 400 direct jobs on board these vessels. A total income of R24 million was generated during the 2014/15 period from the current 40-ton for Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT). If South Africa acceded to CCSBT in 2015, the allocation would have been about 150 ton. This translates to nearly R100 million which translates to an increase in the number of jobs.

The Committee adopted the draft report on the strategic plans, annual performance plans and budget of DAFF and its entities for the 2015/15 financial year with amendments. The EFF rejected the report.

Members asked for clarity around the 1.6 million households benefiting from the Food and Nutrition Security initiatives by 2019 and the 4.3 million people that were insecure in 2014; asked for clarity on the issue of 1 million hectares of under-utilised land; and suggested the Department should present to the Committee in June on how it is going to align its plans and targets seeing that its budget has been reduced.

On international fishing agreements, Members asked what South Africa can do to get a fair share of the tuna tonnage; if there are other costs incurred besides the membership fees; and if an increase in quota is not going to affect the sustainability of tuna fishing.

Meeting report

International Fisheries Agreement
Ms Siphokazi Ndudane, Acting Deputy Director-General in Fisheries Management: DAFF, said her presentation was attempting to address the concerns the Committee raised and to assist it to consider the request of DAFF for South Africa to accede to the Fisheries Agreements. The three agreements in question are: Agreement for the Establishment of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) and the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA).

There are no amendments that have taken place in all three agreements since the State Law Advisors reviewed them and the initial opinion that was given remains the property of the Departments of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJCD) and International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). The opinion states that the three Fisheries Agreements are not in conflict with South African law.

The Agreements are all multilateral instruments and with respect to signature there is one master copy that is signed and is held by the Depositary. Consequently, there would not be a South African text that needs to be printed on South African treaty paper. On how these agreements would have an impact on Operation Phakisa, the DIRCO noted that because the Agreements aim to establish the best international practice with respect to the conservation, management and sustainable use of marine resources are understood to be in line with the objectives of Operation Phakisa.

Concerning accession or ratification to the PSMA, it is reported that the agreement was open for signature until 21 November 2010 and no party could ratify the agreement beyond 21 November 2010 and, therefore, South Africa can only accede. On 19 August 2015, 11 countries ratified the agreement. On the issue of providing assistance to developing states by PSMA, South Africa is a developing country and has already received support from the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMO) particularly with regard to training and attendance of RFMO meetings.

On the matter of denying access to South African ports, it stated that South Africa has implemented certain segments of the PSMA through the requirements of the RFMO. These measures are limited as they only deal with species under the purview of the relevant RFMO. The same capacity that is currently being used to implement port state measures under the RFMO would largely be used to implement the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) PSMA.

In terms of queries raised in respect of the Explanatory Memo, these responses were provided:

  • The history, objective and implications of the Agreement should be briefly set out.
  • The Office of the Director-General obtained the Cabinet minutes of 7 August 2013, which were provided to the Chairperson of the Committee. The document is classified and cannot be distributed widely.
  • All agreements have self-executing provisions that would become law in the Republic in terms of Section 321 (4) of the Constitution upon the approval of the Agreement by Parliament.
  • DAFF has appended 3 separate Opinions from DIRCO and DoJCD and each details the International Fisheries Agreements to the submitted combined Explanatory Memo.

Acceding to the IOTC and CCSBT Agreements would provide direct benefit to the economy of South Africa and indirect benefit to vulnerable groups. It is believed this would create jobs and improve the quality of jobs from seasonal to permanent. The PSMA is striving to create a network of port states to fight the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU) and these would serve to provide additional protection of marine resources of Africa from being plundered by foreign IUU vessels. Reduced IUU would increase the amount of marine resources to be used by South Africa in general.

It is also stated that South Africa is allowed to participate in meetings but the level of participation is limited because non-contracting parties are not allowed to submit written proposals to be considered by the members. In CCSBT, South Africa is not allowed into the negotiations of SBT quota. It must be noted that all decisions of the RFMO are taken by 100% consensus of its member parties, and this means if South Africa acceded, the country would be in a stronger position regarding the tabling of quota proposals and objecting to those that are not equitable. At this stage, South Africa has limited power to influence decisions of member parties because she is a non-contracting party.

Membership Fees
The location of the secretariat determines the currency of the membership fees. CCSBT is based in Australia and operates in Australian Dollars while the IOTC is based in the Seychelles and operates in United States Dollars. Membership fees are determined annually by a specific formula adopted by the respective RFMO. Factors that affect membership fees include:

  • World Bank classification
  • Historical catches
  • Annual overall budget determined by the RFMO

On how important it is for South Africa to accede to CSSBT and IOTC, current figures reveal that South Africa has around 230 vessels in the Large Pelagic (163 tuna pole and 50 long-line). The long-line fishery creates around 400 direct jobs on board these vessels. A total income of R24 million was generated during the 2014/15 period from the current 40-ton for SBT. If South Africa acceded to CCSBT in 2015, the allocation would have been about 150 ton. This translates to nearly R100 million which translates to an increase in the number of jobs. The Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) is a high value fish. One SBT was sold for R20 million in Japan, but South Africa did not make money from that.

The access at the IOTC area is effort regulated. The long-line vessel limitation of South Africa in the IOTC Area is 50 vessels and this would remain in place until 2019. New negotiations would take place in 2019 and it is important to have South Africa accede, otherwise the country would lose out again.

Pertaining to the available enforcement resources, the Department has got three Inshore Patrol Vessels and one offshore vessel. These vessels are equipped with RHIBs that are necessary for boarding and performing inspections at sea. Fishery Control Officers have continuous training in Safety at Sea, First Aid at Sea, Fire fighting at Sea and boarding vessels at sea in addition to legislation, regulations, permit conditions and port state measures. Most of the inspectors have been recruited from enforcement agencies such as SAPS and SARS. However, none are trained in respect of training guidelines as outlined in Annex E of the Agreement. This training would be covered under article 21 in order to develop capacity for developing countries.

In her conclusion Ms Ndudane highlighted that the tuna long-line fishery has the potential to become the third most economically important fishery in South Africa after the hake and small pelagic fisheries. It 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 and, amongst other things, accession to relevant conventions like IOTC and CCSBT.

In as far as acceding to the FAO PSMA is concerned, the world is affixed on South Africa to accede to this instrument in a global attempt to fight 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. Therefore, it is recommended that Parliamentary approval be granted for South Africa to accede to the IOTC, CCSBT and PSMA.

Discussion
Ms Z Jongbloed (DA) asked if other costs are incurred besides the membership fees, and if an increase in quota is not going to affect the sustainability of tuna fishing.

Ms Ndudane said there are costs that are incurred. They are for attending meetings. There are two types of meetings – Commission and Inter-Sessional Meetings. Two delegates are sent to each meeting. Regarding the issue of sustainability, there would be no effect at all because more is going to be taken from those countries that have more tuna like Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Australia.

Mr C Maxegwana (ANC) asked what South Africa could do to get a fair share of the tuna tonnage.

Ms Ndudane reported that all regional fisheries organisations operate in the UN style of governance. South Africa needs to accede to the IOTC and CCSBT Agreements in order to increase its participation and make strategic decisions on issues it is going to table in those international sessions or meetings.

Committee Report on Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Budget Vote
The Chairperson tabled the Draft Committee Report and took Members through the report page by page.

Mr M Filtane (UDM) remarked that on Page 2 under Outcome 7 the numbers are confusing. The concern was around the 1.6 million households benefiting from the Food and Nutrition Security initiatives by 2019 and the 4.3 million people that were insecure in 2014.

Ms Nokuzola Mgxashe, Committee Content Researcher, said the 1, 6 million households represent 4, 3 million individuals.

Mr Filtane also commented that Outcome 7 seems to be reporting on something that has happened.

Ms Mgxashe explained that Outcome 7 talks to rural development and food security. These are the activities the Department takes note of and should respond to.

Mr Filtane further asked for clarity on the issue of 1 million hectares of under-utilised land because it appeared to him the problem lay with year 2013.

The Chairperson explained that the transfer of the land is still to happen in 2019. In 2013 4 million hectares were under-utilised. 1 million of that 4 million has to be utilised by 2019.

Ms A Steyn (DA), on P.21, commented that the discussion of the Committee regarding OBP was about the functions of the entity (OBP) in looking after the health of animals. It was not about funding.

Mr Filtane, on P.21 (8.2), suggested the Department should present its plans to the Committee in June rather than August on how it is going to align its plans and targets seeing that its budget has been reduced.

Ms Steyn agreed with Mr Filtane.

The Chairperson, on P.21 (8.4), felt the end of July for the presentation of the Integrated Funding Model to the Committee is very early. The Committee still needs to have a meeting with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.

Ms Steyn suggested the month of September. The Committee agreed.

The Chairperson suggested that item 8.4 and 8.5 should be combined because they go together – the Integrated Funding Model and APAP. She further suggested that 8.6 be removed because the issue of funding reductions has been stated under Committee Resolution on P.21.

Mr Filtane, on P.22 (8.10) suggested the wording that reads: “poor control of the Act” should be corrected because an Act cannot be controlled. It is implemented.

Ms Mgxashe apologised and said the line is supposed to read: “poor control measures in the administration of the Act”.

The Chairperson suggested that the DAFF should brief the Committee about the poor control measures in the administration of the Act in August.

The report was adopted with amendments. The EFF rejected the report.

The meeting was adjourned.

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