The meeting was convened to consider and adopt the Committee Report on the revised amendments to the Annual Performance Plan of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries for 2020/21. The Report was adopted without the support of the EFF.
During the consideration of the Report, Members raised concerns on the non-response from fisheries management, expressed disagreement with the Department’s response on Programme Eight and reworded the recommendation which said the Department was “building on the environmental gains achieved across the different facets during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown” – Members felt this could be misconstrued as seeing environmental gain at the expense of an impacted economy. It was suggested the Committee consider incentivising more environmentally friendly models to develop the economy but maintain environmental gains.
The Chairperson opened the meeting by noting it was convened to consider and adopt Report of the Committee on the revised amendments to the Annual Performance Plan of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries for 2020/21
Mr N Singh (IFP) asked whether the Committee had received the report from the fisheries management because he had not seen it.
The Chairperson responded that the Committee had not received it. He had thought that it had been included in this Report.
The Chairperson suggested Members go through the Report page-by-page.
Mr N Paulsen (EFF) enquired whether the Committee could still change the contents of the Report because he does not think that anything can be changed now.
The Chairperson confirmed that the content of the Report could not be changed. However, Members still could make their comments as the Committee goes through the Report page-by-page.
Mr Singh highlighted the need to check whether everything that was raised by Members in previous meetings had been responded to. He asked the Committee to particularly pay attention to the questions directed at fisheries management. The Minister assured the Committee that responses would be submitted to the Committee in writing but the Member was not aware of those responses.
The Committee Content Advisor said the Committee had only received the report from the Department today. It should have been sent to the Committee yesterday for the Committee to have sufficient time in going through the Report.
Mr Singh commented on Programme Eight in the Report. He said that it should actually be Programme Nine. He acknowledged that the Committee could not change the Department’s response, but the Committee could still insert a sentence to indicate the Committee’s position that it does not agree with the Department’s response because the Committee is concerned with the subsistence of fishermen. Going onwards, the Committee’s observations and recommendations must be considered and responded to.
Mr J Lorimer (DA) found recommendation 6.5 odd. He did not think it appropriate for the Committee to say that the Department was “building on the environmental gains achieved across the different facets during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown”. He cautioned the Committee that any recommendations that comes from the Committee are consequential in that they send a message to the Department and the public. This recommendation sounds like the Committee was happy to see that the environmental gains were achieved at the expense of a shrinking economy as part of the lockdown restrictions. He suggested the recommendation be withdrawn.
Mr Singh understood where Mr Lorimer came from and suggested the recommendation be reworded as the rationale behind the recommendation had nothing to do with the economy. Environmental gains at the expense of the economy is certainly not the Department’s view, nor what the Department wants to express. He suggested the recommendation be rephrased to “consolidate environmental gains” whilst bearing in mind that significant environmental gain
Mr Lorimer disagreed. He asked Members to think of the consequences of these environmental gains achieved. Would Committee members want to see environmental gains achieved at the expense of a shrinking economy?
Ms H Winkler (DA) commented that there are certainly other ways which can maintain environmental gains without affecting the economy. She suggested the Committee consider incentivising more environmentally friendly models to develop the economy but maintain environmental gains.
The Chairperson agreed that there was consensus that recommendation 6.5 be rephrased and must also emphasise sustainable environmental gains.
On recommendation 6.4, Ms Winkler added that the Department should appoint a high level panel to review policies and practices related to all wildlife animals.
The Chairperson agreed.
The Report was adopted.
Mr Paulsen asked the Chairperson to note the objection of the EFF.
The meeting was adjourned.
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