Fishing Rights Allocation Process; Small Scale Fisheries Policy implementation: DAFF update

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

09 February 2016
Chairperson: Ms M Semenya (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Deputy Director-General of Fisheries is the delegated authority in the refusal and granting of fishing rights allocations. She noted that she has excused herself and her officials from invites, dinners, telephone calls and meetings involving fishing rights allocations.

This came to the attention of the Committee when the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) gave a progress report on the Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) and on the implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy.

On FRAP 2013, eight sectors were allocated fishing rights. By December 2013, DAFF had received about 1 200 appeals across the eight sectors. In addition to this, a court case was brought against DAFF by the South African Commercial Linefish Association (SACLA). In June 2015, the Minister appointed a three-person advisory team to assess the appeals for his consideration. Appeals in seven sectors have now been finalised and the appellants have all been informed of the outcomes.

On FRAP 2015, Minister Zokwana announced that the fishing rights scheduled to expire during 2015 in 10 sectors would be extended until February 2016 and further to the end of the respective 2016 fishing seasons. Also, Fish Processing Establishment Rights (FPEs) would be re-allocated.

On general and specific sector policies, fisheries in South Africa is managed in terms of the General Fisheries Policy and 22 sector specific policies. DAFF published the revised General Fisheries Policy on 17 July 2013. DAFF published the amended 10 FRAP 2015 Sector Specific Policies; the draft Application Form; the proposed fees schedule and the draft Fish Processing Establishment Policy for public comment in June 2015. Public consultations were held in 32 venues around the country.

On the distribution and receipting processes, public comments were analysed and policies and forms were amended accordingly and subjected to legal vetting. The final policies, application forms and schedule of fees were gazetted on 16 November 2015 (Gazette Notice No. 39417). Distribution took place at 32 venues around the country, including the inland provinces. 16 744 applications forms were distributed. The receipting process has already taken place as from 1 – 12 February 2016. PriceWaterhouseCoopers has been appointed to independently monitor the distribution process and administer and control the entire FRAP 2015/16 process, including the finalisation of appeals. An independent anonymous tip-off line has been set up and would be operational until the end of the appeals process.

The implementation of the small-scale fisheries policy is awaiting sign-off from the President for the promulgation of the amended Marine Living Resources Act. Once this step is concluded, DAFF would publish the approved small-scale fishing regulations and the Minister would announce the final call (30 days) for all outstanding communities to register their expression of interest.

Members asked when would the next FRAP be for those who missed out on this application process; how DAFF is planning to deal with fronting which is rife in the industry; how DAFF is going to decide between applications that meet all the requirements for fishing rights; when would consultations about the details of splits between commercial and small-scale fisheries be announced; about the allegations that the person who assisted in the settling of the appeals process is the same person who assisted SACLA; noted the number of people illegally fish along the coast without permits and had concerns about the catch data monitors in harbours.

Meeting report

Fishing Rights Allocation Process; Small Scale Fisheries Policy implementation: DAFF update
Ms Siphokazi Ndudane, DAFF Deputy Director-General: Fisheries, updated the Committee on the FRAP 2013 and 2015 process, general and sector specific policies, and the distribution and receipting process.

On FRAP 2013, eight sectors were allocated fishing rights. By December 2013, DAFF had received about 1 200 appeals across the eight sectors. In addition to this, a court case was brought against the Department by the South African Commercial Linefish Association (SACLA). In June 2015, the Minister appointed a three-person Advisory Team to assess the appeals for his consideration. Appeals in seven sectors have been finalised and the appellants have all been informed of the outcomes. SACLA and DAFF reached an out of court settlement which detailed the way on how the matter was to be resolved. Currently, the appeals team is finalising these line fish appeals which should be completed by end of February 2016.

During 2005/06 DAFF embarked on the Long-Term Rights Allocation Management Process (LTRAMP). In preparation for LTRAMP, DAFF published a general policy as well as sector specific policies for 22 commercial fishing sectors. At the conclusion of the LTRAMP process, rights were granted in terms of section 18 of the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998 (MLRA) for periods ranging from 8, 10 and 15 years. The rights that were allocated for 8 years (in 8 fishing sectors) expired during 2013 and were re-allocated in December 2013. Rights that were allocated for 10 years have expired at various times during the course of 2015 (FRAP 15/16).

With regard to FRAP 2015, Minister Zokwana announced that the fishing rights scheduled to expire at various times during 2015 in 10 sectors, would be extended until February 2016 and further to the end of the respective 2016 fishing seasons. Also, Fish Processing Establishment Rights (FPEs) would be re-allocated. The 10 sectors are as follows:
1. Abalone
2.Hake Inshore Trawl
3.Patagonian Toothfish
4.Horse Mackerel
5.West Coast Rock Lobster near shore
6.West Coast Rock Lobster offshore
7.Seaweed
8.KZN Sardine Beach Seine
9.Large Pelagic
10.Net fish

Concerning general and specific sector policies, Fisheries in South Africa is managed in terms of the General Fisheries Policy and 22 sector specific policies. DAFF published the revised General Fisheries Policy in July 2013. DAFF published the amended 10 FRAP 2015 Sector Specific Policies; the draft Application Form; the proposed schedule of fees and the draft Fish Processing Establishment Policy for public comment in June 2015. Public consultations were held in 32 venues around the country.

About distribution and receipting processes, public comments were analysed and policies and forms were amended accordingly and subjected to legal vetting. The final policies, application forms and schedule of fees were gazetted on 16 November 2015 (Gazette Notice No. 39417). On 2 November 2015 DAFF announced that the distribution process would take place from 23 November – 11 December 2015. Distribution took place at 32 venues around the country, including the inland provinces. 16 744 applications forms were distributed. The receipting process has already taken place as from 1 – 12 February 2016. DAFF agreed to extend the receipting deadline from 11 January to allow applicants more time to complete the application forms. Receipting is going take place at 33 venues around the country, including inland provinces

PriceWaterhouseCoopers has been appointed to independently monitor the distribution process and to administer and control the entire FRAP 2015/16 process, including the finalisation of the appeals. An independent anonymous tip-off line has been set up and would be operational until the end of the appeals process. DAFF is administering a call-centre/helpline that applicants can call for information and clarity on how to complete the application forms. DAFF has held a workshop where proposed resource splits / apportionment between the commercial, recreational and small-scale sectors were proposed for public comment and input. DAFF held an Abalone Imbizo with interested parties to discuss future management of the fishery.

It should be noted that the Minister has the final say in the resource apportionment of Global TAC means a total annual allowable catch set for the taking of a single stock by all fishing methods. This should not be confused with the annual Total Allowable Catch and Total Allowable Effort.
Ms Ndudane also took the Committee through the status of the small-scale fisheries implementation process. On milestones achieved, she reported that:

Small-scale Fishing Regulations were vetted by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Arrangement (OCSLA) in December 2015. The Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation signed-off on the Social and Environmental Impact Assessments (SEIAs) in December 2015. A discussion was opened with stakeholders on marine resource apportionment between sectors in December 2015. The Small-Scale Fishing Regulations was approved by Minister in January 2016. The Information Management System was completed in January 2016 for the fisher verification process. A media briefing for small-scale fisheries implementation process has been done early February 2016. A small-scale fisheries guide book printed has been printed in English early February 2016. The fisher verification protocol has been completed early February 2016. To date 267 communities registered an expression of interest (EoI). The environmental scan has been completed for communities that registered for an EoI in February 2016 and traditional leaders and local municipalities were briefed on the process as early as February 2016. A dedicated Facebook page is up and running, and a web page is under construction.

The implementation process of the small-scale fisheries is awaiting a sign-off from the President pertaining to the promulgation of the Amended Marine Living Resources Act. Once this step is concluded, DAFF would publish the approved small-scale fishing regulations and Minister would announce the final call (30 days) for all outstanding communities to register their expression of interest.  DAFF is going to announce a schedule for community visits to start the verification process of all members considering themselves as small-scale fishers in the registered communities. This is the first important step in the process of allocating small-scale fishing rights. The remainder of the implementation process is explained in the attached poster.

DAFF identified the following as challenging:


Challenges mentioned entailed:
• Resource apportionment between the fishing sectors: Small-scale fisheries (SSF); Commercial and Recreational)
• Finalisation of a fee structure for the Small-Scale Sector with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance
• Duration of fishing rights (currently MRLA sets it at 15 years) - a precautionary approach needed for SSF
• Capacity constraints given the expectation to support the development and management of the sector
Marine Protected Areas by DEA
• iSimangaliso nature reserve (world heritage site).


Discussion
Mr C Maxegwana (ANC) asked when would the next process be for those who missed out on the submission process. He asked how DAFF is planning to deal with the problem of fronting which is rife in the industry. He remarked that the formation of co-operatives might be taken advantage of by so-called consultants if people are not properly advised.

Ms Ndudane replied that these are 10-year rights. People would be considered in 2025 again. Business processes are in place to ensure things are happening in 2018 for the allocation of fishing rights. She said processes are going to be very strict to stamp out fronting. A clause would be put on each and every person who has not been audited. The audit is going to be continuous in DAFF. If a person is found guilty, his/her licence is going to be revoked. With the resources it has, the government is going to support the small-scale fisheries.

On fronting, Minister Zokwana said it is the obligation of those who have licences to do things the right way and inform DAFF about malpractices. DAFF is going to hold a meeting with the CEOs of relevant stakeholders to address this matter.

Mr L Ntshayisa (AIC) asked how DAFF is going to deal with adjudicating applications that meet all the requirements for fishing rights.

Ms Ndudane replied that it is not going to be an easy decision. Hence DAFF has devised criteria and scoring measures. Those who have been in the business for a very long time are going to have their own categories. This would help to balance things.

Ms Z Jongbloed (DA) asked when would consultations about the details of splits between commercial and small-scale fisheries be announced. When would the regulatory reports on the finalised FRAP appeal processes be published on the Department website? She asked for clarity on the allegations that the person who assisted in the settling of the appeals process is the same one who assisted SACLA.

On the splits, Ms Ndudane reported there is no obligation to announce the splits between the sectors. There is no legally binding obligation. That is the decision of the Minister on when that would be done. The reports Ms Jongbloed is referring to are not regulatory reports, but reports that explain the decision of the Minister and they do not have to be published. If they are published, it is merely the courtesy of the Department. There is no obligation to publish them.

The Minister replied that with regard to the individual who assisted in the appeals settlement and assisted SACLA, SACLA had the right to declare that so that the Department could make a stand. Those individuals were chosen on the basis of their strength, knowledge of the processes, and expertise. The process went smoothly at the end of the day.

Mr P Mabe (ANC) said seeing that the allocations are for 15 years and if it happens that within two years they get limited, is that not going to bring significant changes to policy and be a soft spot to agitate the small scale-scale fishing sector?

The Minister replied that this is a new process and they are not sure about the reaction of the people. People are given rights for 15 years but nobody knows what is going to happen during that period. There is a need to balance nature with development.

Ms Ndudane added that in each season DAFF is going to develop permit conditions that state where individuals must fish.

Ms A Steyn (DA) asked what processes are in place to make sure there is no political interference in the reports as it has been claimed. She asked about mechanisms in place to help people with applications because it has been reported small-scale fisheries have to pay R2000 for applications. She requested clarity on people who illegally fish along the coast without permits. This is something she observed during oversight and there have been many stories about the catch data monitors in harbours.

Ms Ndudane replied that the Fisheries DDG is going to grant and refuse licences. She is the delegated authority. That is why she has excused herself from dinners and meetings about fishing rights allocations. The officials have been informed not to entertain meetings, telephone calls and dinners on this matter, and that is why there is the introduction of a second layer of auditing by PWC. She noted there is also commercial interference from big companies to influence the process. Interference is not only political. On the application fees, DAFF could not reach all cases. It nly attended to those cases brought to the attention of the Department through its call centre.

On oversight over illegal fishing. Mr Mathoho, a DAFF official, explained that catch data monitors are not employees of DAFF. They are employed by service providers through the Expanded Public Works Programme. They are employed to gather accurate information or catch data and are trained by the service providers. The Hout Bay Harbour, for example, is the problem child and it is receiving attention. Anomalies are being investigated. The Department is receiving reports on illegal fishing. DAFF has inspectors to monitor the coastline with the help of other stakeholders. A report is usually given to DAFF, but when they find the person accused of fishing illegally, they discover that this person has got a permit. Complaints are attended to.

On the catch data monitors in harbours, Mr Mabe remarked that the service providers are implementing agents for the Department. Calling them “service providers” makes it feel like they are consultants. They should be referred to as implementing agents.

Ms Steyn said the Committee needs a proper briefing on monitoring policy because it does not look like there is one at all.

The Chairperson supported this idea.

Ms Ndudane assured the Committee that a presentation would be done on monitoring and surveillance.

The Chairperson asked how many potential small-scale farmers are on Facebook. The Eastern Cape Black Fisheries have raised a complaint that that have not been attended to by DAFF. She asked at what point is the Fisheries unit be run like “the private sector” and have a proper structure within DAFF.

Ms Ndudane, on the number of farmers on Facebook, reported that there are 210 farmers and 200 are on the WhatsApp group. On Eastern Cape Black Fisheries, she said a bigger component not dealt with is politically connected individuals. Corruption ithin the Department by individuals is being investigated.

Mr Mortimer Mannya, DAFF Director-General, spoke on restructuring, saying that the integration of Fisheries into DAFF has taken place. All Fisheries staff are on the payroll of the Department. The MLRF does not have staff. The staff belongs to the Department. The configuration has been waiting for the permanent appointment of the Director-General to happen.

The Chairperson suggested that the Department should send the Committee a written response about the Eastern Cape Black Fisheries.

Ms Jongbloed asked if DAFF is responsible for the verification process or if it will be done by an independent person. How is the FRAP 2013 corruption going to be dealt with? She requested clarity on the basket of species to be awarded in 2019.

The Minister relied that rooting out corruption is work in progress. A follow-up on such reports is being done. Investigations are being conducted so DAFF could then act on these.

Ms Ndudane replied that the verification would be done by the Department and would be audited independently. On the basket of 2019 species, as before, it would be done by the Minister as it depends on the availability of the species.

Ms Jongbloed asked if it is true that 100% of abalone rights would go to small-scale fisheries.

The Minister replied that this is not true.

The meeting was adjourned.

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