The Committee met to discuss the Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) 2020. This was a follow-up from the previous meeting where the Committee received a briefing from the Department on the initiative but there was no time for engagement due to time constraints. The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was in attendance.
During the interaction, Members made a number of comments and asked questions:
- There had been reported in media of a situation in the fisheries Department that the Deputy Director-General (DDG) of fisheries had been suspended and that she was facing 155 charges of theft, corruption and fraud; they asked for an update on that.
- The unavailability of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) was a direct result of DAFF being unable to deal with poaching effectively. The media had also reported that an agreement existed between the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the collective and the DAFF; they wanted to have sight of that agreement?
- They wanted to know why the Minister had not escalated the issue of abalone poaching in a similar way as had been done by the Minister of Environmental Affairs on the rhino poaching issue. How far had DAFF progressed in involving the security cluster and declaring a state of emergency regarding poaching of maritime resources?
- On the issue of entitlement by commercial established fisheries versus small scale fishers, what was DAFF doing to ensure that the basket and allocations were equal across the board?
- Black researchers had reported to the Chairperson that DAFF was not allowing them space to participate in DAFF programmes. Had the Minister interacted with said group and what would be the way forward in ensuring that as DAFF worked with new research entrants, it retained skills to ensure no skills shortage would occur whilst also covering labour related prescripts? When DAFF previously presented to the Committee on the matter it had reported that it would still consult where the Food Allied Workers Union (FAWU) had proposed that DAFF hold a dialogue or seminar to discuss and elaborate on the above matters.
- Regarding protected areas by DEA which affected small scale fisheries; what currently was the situation for those fishermen? How long did it take to replenish depleted resource stocks? How would DAFF ensure that protection of areas would not be used to deny fishermen access to ocean resources?
- They also wanted to know how quotas worked for article 21 transfers where someone had a 15 year quota which could not be removed and that person sold it to a big company like Oceana. Did the quota after the time had expired return to the sector or did it remain with the big company which it had been transferred to?
- What was DAFFs envisaged target for achievement of transformation in terms of fish rights ownership and development?
- In the instances where the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) would have permitted prospecting rights for mining in an area where hake fish were laying eggs the DAFF were going to engage the DEA within the operation Phakisa where all three Departments were involved; how far had those engagements progressed?
- In terms of mentoring, did DAFF keep statistics of those individuals and had that started only after ’94; did it absorb people supported with bursaries? There was a trend in government where bursary recipients and mentees were not placed after training, which would have been paid for by government.
- The Committee wanted an update on the scientist from the University of Cape Town (UCT) matter. Was DAFF saying that if it did not get the necessary budget it would have problems finalizing RAPP 2020?
- Had the DAFF commissioned any studies on the aquaculture of the west coast rock lobster? If not, why had that not been done? Had the process started to make aquaculture farming easier as there was a lot of red tape in establishing aquaculture farming at considerable cost and that farming would enable more TAC to be allocated to small scale fishermen?
The Chairperson welcomed everyone noting that the meeting was for the Committee to engage the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) on its Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) 2020 which was presented to the Committee the previous week. Due to time constraints, the Committee could not engage with the Department last week and would do so at this meeting.
Mr P van Dalen (DA) asked the Minister what the situation was in the fisheries Department as the media had reported that the Deputy Director-General (DDG) of fisheries had been suspended and that she was facing 155 charges of theft, corruption and fraud.
Mr van Dalen said the unavailability of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) was a direct result of DAFF being unable to deal with poaching effectively. The media had also reported that an agreement existed between the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the collective and DAFF; could the Committee have sight of that agreement?
Mr van Dalen asked if DAFF had commissioned any studies on the aquaculture of the West Coast rock lobster. If not, why had that not been done? Had the process started to make aquaculture farming easier as there was a lot of red tape in establishing aquaculture farming at considerable cost and that farming would enable more TAC to be allocated to small scale fishermen?
Mr van Dalen said that he had visited the Doringbaai Abalone Farm (DBAF) where he had found those fishermen were living hand-to-mouth on the current allocated quota by DAFF: could they not be included in the DAFF programme to upgrade small scale fishermen to medium enterprises similar to the way provinces had upgraded small scale farmers to medium scale farmers?
The Chairperson recalled that the Committee had asked the Minister why he had not escalated abalone poaching in a similar way as had been done by the Minister of Environmental Affairs in respect of rhino poaching. How far had DAFF progressed in involving the security cluster and declaring a state of emergency regarding poaching of maritime resources
The Minister had also reported that there had been officials who had interfered with the appeals process by the DAFF where they had gone to the tribunals to take photographs; what progress had been achieved by the Minister in addressing that issue.
On the issue of entitlement by commercial established fisheries versus small scale fishers what was DAFF doing to ensure that the basket and allocations were equal across the board.
Black researchers had reported to the Chairperson that DAFF was not allowing them space to participate in its programmes. Had the Minister interacted with said group and what would be the way forward in ensuring that as DAFF worked with new research entrants, it retained skills to ensure no skills shortage would occur whilst also covering labour related prescripts. When DAFF previously presented to the Committee on the matter it had reported that it would still consult where the Food Allied Workers Union (FAWU) had proposed that DAFF hold a dialogue or seminar to discuss and elaborate on the above matters.
After signing bilateral agreements on tuna fishing the South African (SA) Government had said its participation had increased the tonnage it had been allocated in historically; what impact had that that agreement had on SA’s fisheries industry.
Mr N Capa (ANC) referred to the challenges identified by DAFF with the FRAP he wanted to know what long term plans there were to resolve the issue of capacity as had been identified.
Mr Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, forestry and Fisheries, replied that the DDG of the fisheries was back at work as the Committee would have noted from her previous work and the DAFF was continuing with the establishment of a solid team to deal with sustainability in the FRAP process and he would be meeting with the Deputy Minister and DDG fisheries to discuss said issues.
Regarding the capacity challenges and given the complications of allocations he said if the DAFF had enough capacity it would ideally allocate two or three fish species to one individual who would focus on that to lessen the burden on one individual overseeing the entire allocations. DAFF had approached the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) regarding appointment of the 20 temporary staff to be made permanent to capacitate the allocations unit.
On the shortage of TAC the DAFF had prioritised changing the way abalone was stored to avoid the recurrence of confiscated stock being stolen again. DAFF also wanted to ensure that proceeds from any confiscated abalone would be used to also empower. When DAFF received the funds from the Arnold Bengis proceeds, that money would be pooled into a fund to ensure that the security cluster departments, with the cooperation of communities, would elevate the fight against poaching abalone.
Minister Zokwana said the only knowledge he had was of an appeal lodged where the collective had been part of the WWF initiative on the case in question. He had been informed that DAFF had been engaging different communities because there had been a cut in the TAC of abalone which had caused disgruntlement amongst the small scale fishing community.
When dealing with allocations of TAC one dealt with the current holders, future allocations and scientific reports that determined what could be fished.
There currently were negotiations on tuna TAC but the delegation would elaborate on that matter.
On aquaculture as a future venture and not necessarily augmenting current depleted fish stocks and focusing on a particular fish species, the delegation would also speak to those as inquired by Mr Van Dalen.
Mr Michael Mlengana, Director-General (DG), DAFF, said the matter of the disciplinary action against the DDG seemed to have been blown out of proportion. That matter had emerged from the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) audit report findings on consistent non-compliance with supply chain management (SCM) prescripts. The process underway by DAFF was simply asking the same questions the AGSA had required responses to and probably the best person to give clarity to said questions was the DDG of fisheries.
The ongoing engagement between the Minister, his deputy and Mr Mlengana centred on finding dedicated personnel for the fisheries component of DAFF and to that extent the matter of transformation had been discussed as well.
There were however; two personnel within DAFF that consistently had been undergoing disciplinary processes and they had been issued with disciplinary and suspension letters to date. The individuals had been implicated in the Wiljaro SCM litigation, and the DG was also processing the matters concerning Ncera Farms overpayments. More concerning for the DG had been the Compensation of Employees (CoE) budget over expenditure such that budgeted vacancies could no longer be filled in the year under review by DAFF; and the DG would be interrogating those with the Minister and heads of units within DAFF. Overtime and extra performance could not be correlated to the Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the fisheries component within DAFF and the DG had engaged National Treasury (NT) on the staffing constraints within DAFF to deal with risks to the agricultural economy such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), avian influenza, swine fever and fisheries abalone sector.
Mr Semoli Belemane, Chief Director: Aquaculture Development, DAFF, said that DAFF was not farming with west coast rock lobster (WCRL) for biological and economic reasons. WCRL had a complicated biology in that its life cycle had about nine different life stages that took about 12 years to reach market size. Economically, if it took that long to reach market size the market price would have to be higher. There had been some successful initiatives in the Eastern Cape (EC) where holding facilities where the WCRL could be harvested from the wild and then fattened to reach market size to then be sold at an appropriate market price.
DAFF had been working with DBAF where its farming allocation had been 20 tonnes to date where the forthcoming plan was to increase the tonnage to 50 tonnes before the end of 2019. DAFF had intervened through negotiating with the Department of Public Works (DPW) to grant the farm an extension on the lease of the property. Secondly, DAFF had intervened through negotiating for funding, as the farm had been recognised by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) as part of the Agri-parks initiative and by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). DAFF had also been discussing abalone ranching to make the farm more economically active as it had a hatchery already.
In general most of the aquaculture projects were supported under the Operation Phakisa programme and DAFF had previously reported in detail to the Committee on that work. Currently DAFF had 36 registered projects under its Operation Phakisa; 26 of which were already operational with the remaining still at planning. Most of the intervention DAFF did was in terms of legislative de-blocking when projects needed permits and leases as those processes sometimes could be lengthy. An inter-departmental authorisations Committee had also been established with key departments such as the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), DRDLR and Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). There was also the Aquaculture Development Fund (ADF) as there was a working group within government that funded aquaculture including some Development Finance Institutions (DFIs). DAFF had also established a certification programme to ensure that the products were certified to be safe for human consumption as most international markets currently required government guarantees on safety for consumption and pathology free certification. DAFF in cooperation with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) had identified different skills requirements within the aquaculture space and had managed to send five government veterinarians (vets) to complete master degrees in aquatic medicine in 2017 at Stirling University. There were five qualified fish vets in country and DAFF had sent another three government vets on the same programme for 2018/19 financial year.
Ms Sue Middleton, Chief Director: Fisheries Operational Support, DAFF, said that on the request from FAWU for a symposium on FRAP 2020; the Department had committed itself to consult extensively with all stakeholders including FAWU, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and others but whether or not the consultation would be a symposium or not would be something DAFF could discuss with FAWU.
Mr Saasa Pheeha, Acting Chief Director (ACD): Fisheries Research and Development R&D), DAFF, said that skills shortage had always been a challenge in the maritime space and DAFF found itself with an aging cohort of researchers. To be credible as a researcher took time. DAFF was recruiting students across most of the traditional public universities in the country and it also ran internships in-house of which the most recent had just been completed with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). He was a product of the programmes ran by DAFF and the Department also participated in a number of research cruises designed for skills development. Forthcoming would be a partnership between SA, Namibia, and Angola to ensure that DAFF recruited young black scientists.
In terms of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), SAs TAC for tuna had increased from 40- 450 tonnes and that had sustained jobs within that sector with rights holders being able to fish longer than the 40 tonnes would have allowed and the benefits also had accrued down the value chain as part of processing and marketing. Since DAFF had become members of the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) it had managed to increase its footprint as part of R& D in that some of the stock assessment modelling had been developed by local scientist. A new challenge was the suitability of vessels to access the resources at high seas particularly the structure of the vessels as well as the processing capability. Following that was the challenge of skills of the fishermen to be able to catch, handle and process the catch; and DAFF had entered into joint ventures with the Japanese in particular to access the platforms where South African fishermen would be developed in the skills to process the resource; the long term plan was to reflagging the vessels and having them registered as South African.
Minister Zokwana said the registration of the catch was so that when allocations were made at the international centre historical data informed that if for example; a foreign vessel is fishing in SA waters and the catch is not registered, the catch could easily be claimed by others.
The Chairperson asked how many women made up the five fish vets that had qualified abroad. She asked that each time DAFF reported on skills development that had to be gender disaggregated.
Mr Belemane replied that two were female: one from the Western Cape (WC) DAFF and the other from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) DAFF. The remaining three were men were from the EC, North West (NW) and Gauteng DAFFs. In 2018/19 cohort there had been a female from Mpumalanga, one male from Limpopo and one male from NW. Free State (FS) had been given an opportunity twice but the individual had declined both times and DAFF was sourcing another fish vet.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) asked whether in terms of mentoring, did DAFF keep statistics of those individuals and had that started only after ’94; did it absorb people supported with bursaries? There was a trend in government where bursary recipients and mentees were not placed after training, which would have been paid for by government.
Mr Van Dalen wanted to know how quotas worked for article 21 transfers where someone had a 15 years quota which could not be removed and that person sold it to a big company like Oceana. Did the quota after the time had expired return to the sector or did it remain with the big company which it had been transferred to?
He wanted to know how the private sector was involved in aquaculture farming. There were hatcheries already keeping stock, why could those not let some fish into the sea to populate the shore? The responses he had received to that question is that there was legislation prohibiting aquaculture farms from doing that.
The Chairperson asked the Minister was DAFFs envisaged target is for achievement of transformation in terms of fish rights ownership and development. In the instances where the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) would have permitted prospecting rights for mining in an area where hake fish were laying eggs, DAFF was going to engage the DEA within Operation Phakisa where all three Departments were involved; how far had those engagements progressed?
She also wanted an update on the scientist from the University of Cape Town (UCT) matter. Was DAFF saying that if it did not get the necessary budget it would have problems finalizing FRAP 2020?
Regarding protected areas by DEA which affected small scale fisheries; what was the current situation for those fishermen? How long did it take to replenish depleted resource stocks? How would DAFF ensure that protection of areas would not be used to deny fishermen access to ocean resources?
Minister Zokwana replied that the oceans economy Phakisa led by DEA included the Department of Transport (DoT), DMR and DAFF and each of the Departments had a specific purpose. DEA did the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which probably was what Mr Van Dalen had been referring to. Mr van Dalen could contact the task team from that cluster on any matters he still required information on. Indeed Kleinsee formerly was a mining operation that had since been closed and certainly there had been restriction imposed because of the probability that individuals could use fishing as entry to gain access to then steal alluvial diamonds.
The Minister agreed that EIAs had the potential to delay work and DAFF would follow up with DEA whether realising fingerlings to replenish depleted stock was only fear of contamination or if there were other reasons because the only way to augment stocks was to release hatchlings into the natural habitat.
In terms of transformation, DAFF was intervening in the negotiations between small rights holders and vessel owners as some species of fish required different vessel capabilities and in that regard those interventions would be in line with the current fisheries policies and other fisheries legislation to avoid contradictions going forward.
In terms of prospecting and mining rights where operators were looking for new mineral such as phosphate which could be mined in the ocean; the Phakisa agreement had been that such prospecting would not impede on where hatching of fish occurs or where hake laid eggs.
Secondly, transformation could also be in how DAFF had started engaging the private fishing sector regarding non lucrative fishing species.
Ms Middleton replied that transfers were indeed done in accordance with section 21 of the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA). The section provided for conditions to transfer rights from one party to another. There was also a transfer policy expanding on section 21 of the MLRA; when a right was transferred between two persons, at anytime during the duration of the right, when it expired it automatically reverted back to government. In FRAP 2015 DAFF had amended the sector specific policies for the species which were being allocated in FRAP 2015 to put a two year moratorium on the transfer of a right. The logic behind that had been to avoid paper quota or fronting so that the vulnerable could not be used to apply fictitiously for fishing rights so that a bigger entity took ownership of the right after allocation, where sometimes it would become apparent that the applicant had had no intention of using the right. Amongst the rigid criteria in a transfer was that when a right was transferred it could not adversely affect the transformation profile. It had to improve or at least maintain the transformation profile.
In the FRAP 2020, DAFF indeed had to be upfront about its vision for the different sectors in fisheries. The transformation profiles of each fishery would depend on the specific fishery and as part of transformation process and public consultation the DAFF would publish visions statements upfront.
She said the situation was that DAFF had planned to review its revenue model as it could better collect and establish new revenue streams. As part of FRAP 2020 DAFF would review the levies fishermen paid when they landed fish. DAFF would be reviewing harbour fees, permit fees and others as all those had not been adjusted against inflation in a long time.
On stock enhancement, Mr Belemane replied that the industry wanted to seed at sea. DAFF had a policy on that and that was allowed however; a permit was required from DAFF for an individual to do that. Linked to that was ranching, for abalone three areas in the EC were active in ranching abalone through permits. The Northern Cape (NC) had a further three areas also permitted to ranch and DAFF had made available three areas in the WC for ranching of abalone but there had been no interest to do that. The logic behind proper permissions by DAFF was that it had to be able to regulate first the possible genetic impacts that could result, because when one could produce seed under hatchery conditions, one could manipulate the genetics of that seed species. DAFF also wanted to ensure that once the seed was introduced in the wild to enhance stock the genetic integrity of the wild stock would also be protected from the hatchery seed. There were guidelines on how all that was done. DAFF wanted to deal with disease transfers and to avoid pathogen spread in the wild stock from hatchery seed. There had been some legislative changes from Operation Phakisa especially in terms of the EIA regulations. The timeframes had become shorter and the process had become less stringent as they had used to be and a success pilot for that had the DBAF where the expansion of that project and the EIA done there had been approved in record time. EIA approval could take anything from six to months compared to the three to five years that it historically took to finish EIAs.
DAFF had also been busy with the Aquaculture Development Bill which was going through parliamentary processes and the purpose of the bill was to streamline authorisations and all other components pertaining to aquaculture as DAFFs audit into legislation for aquaculture had found that there were about 30 pieces of legislation which affected aquaculture.
On marine protected areas (MPAs), the areas were protected in terms of section 43 of the MLRA however; when DEA split from DAFF, the former had moved with that section 43 lock, stock and barrel. That had potential for challenges because protected areas could be declared for two reasons: one was biodiversity protection and secondly for recovery of commercial fish stocks. DAFF had signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) with DEA to cooperate with DEA on the latter aspects of section 43 of the MLRA. DAFF had engaged DEA on the 22 MPAs in the pipeline where DAFF had expressed itself on the commercially important species which could be found in some of the planned MPAs. The monitoring of the commercial fish stocks were done by DAFF fisheries scientists.
Mr Pheeha confirmed that there was space for some if not all the graduates that DAFF funded within the Department, specifically on the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) programme partnership. He was a product of that programme where he had studied in Norway for three years. DAFF tracked all other graduates that had come before him and after him and knew where they were in the fishing sector. Most of them were within DAFF managing different units of the fisheries component of DAFF and some had been absorbed by DEA as there was quite some similarities in the work done and training received by scientist for both Departments. DAFF would submit the numbers of all graduates and their absorption rates into government.
Stock modelling and assessments were quite mathematically intense and there were very little mathematical modellers easily found in the public sector as most were absorbed by the banking sector because of the very high salaries paid by the banking sector. Some of the parameters incorporated into the current stock modelling used by DAFF included physical oceanography, biological as well as other ecosystem considerations. The more parameters included in a stock assessment model the more certainty and accuracy one could derive from the modelling; therefore the models that DAFF were using for species like hake were world class but the Department did struggle to retain the skills for the stated reasons. DAFF had advertised a stock modelling contract with only one service provider having submitted a bid to provide the services. That service provider had not met some of the requirements so that the tender had to be cancelled and DAFF were undertaking permission authorisations to re-advertise that contract so that the tender could go out by December 2018 for modelling. In the interval DAFF had committed to making a skills audit internally and externally to see how the DAFF could in source stock assessment models that used simplified models to predict the stock status. DAFF had about five researchers internally that could perform some of the simplified stock assessments two of which were black and were in the process of completing their PhDs. DAFF would be having an annual international stock assessment workshop on 23-26 November in collaboration with UCT. DAFF had invited four international experts who would be reviewing some of the methods used by it especially in the hake sector, the WCRL, Sardine and Line fish models taking into account the changes that had been occurring in the water column and hwy some of the resources were moving and changing habitats in the ocean.
Minister Zokwana added that DAFF was in the process of signing a MoU with Namibia as Namibia and Angola had fast tracked their programmes to internally capacitate themselves on stock assessment capacity. As a country, realisable stock assessment information was needed to enable future TAC allocations and that enabled countries to take remedial action when needed. The current risk in SA was that people that held stock assessment information were consultants and that was undesirable going forward. Namibia had been chosen because of the language similarity as well as the fact that the Benguela reef ran through the coastline from Namibia down to SA waters and it contained the same fish species. The plan was to leverage secondment of Namibian experts to assist with stocks assessment modelling and exchange of skills where DAFF hoped to deploy its staff complement to get training the necessary training.
The Chairperson said that previously the DAFF had reported that Namibia had also been using the same scientist for stock assessment.
Minister Zokwana confirmed that the same individual previously had done work for Namibia, Angola and SA however; immediately Namibia and Angola had capacitated themselves through NORAD. Together with Mr Pheeha, the Namibians and Angolans had been further trained in stock assessment. The MoU had a capability sharing component to it such that Namibia and SA could use the same research vessel as that was cost saving. Secondly the MoU included knowledge exchange in terms of how Namibia had transformed its fishing space.
The Chairperson said the other business around ‘working for fisheries would be scheduled for a different date as Parliament had changed the programme for Committees but the Committee wanted to know where the budgets were for the fisheries component of DAFF as it was not seeing the work being done within that component. She thanked the Department for briefing the Committee.
Consideration of draft Committee minutes
The Committee considered its minutes of 28 August 2018.
Ms M Tongwane (ANC) noted a grammatical error for correction and moved for adoption of the minutes.
The minutes were adopted with minor amendments.
The Committee considered the minutes of the 4 and 11 September and the 2, 10, 16, 23, 30 October 2018. The minutes were adopted without any amendments.
Ms A Steyn (DA) asked what effect adopting the minutes late had on some of the resolutions the Committee took at meetings as some deadlines had already passed.
The Chairperson said that when the Committee took resolutions it needed a quorum and resolutions were always communicated with the DAFF and the Management Committe (MANCO) ensured that it followed up on said resolutions even if minutes were adopted at a later stage. Outstanding from the DAFF had been the Gauteng Provincial DAFF report which the MANCO would follow-up with a letter. The Committee always strove to ensure that minutes did not stand-over to a new term.
Ms Steyn said that she did not recall the Free State DAFF ever submitting a full report on the request the Committee had made during oversight at that province.
The Chairperson recalled that the Committee had invited that provincial DAFF to respond to the Committees concerns and that provincial DAFF had responded to the Committee; if the Committee was unhappy with that response it was incumbent on the Committee to note the issue it remained dissatisfied with.
She said the Police Committee had invited the Committee for a joint sitting as it would be receiving a briefing on rural safety, specifically farm and rural policing. She requested Members to attend that meeting. She noted other invitations where the Committee’s attendance had been requested.
The meeting was then adjourned.
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