Ocean Phakisa Progress: DEFF briefing; with Deputy Minister

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

24 November 2020
Chairperson: Mr F Xasa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) briefed the Committee on growing the oceans economy – Operation Phakisa. The Department reported there is potential for nine ocean sectors with a contribution of R177b to the GDP by 2033 and a contribution of 1m jobs. Investments is mainly in infrastructure development (in ports), marine manufacturing (boatbuilding), aquaculture and scientific and seismic surveys; coastal and marine tourism, small harbours and marine protection services and ocean governance. Members were taken through an overview of initiatives related to marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas, aquaculture and coastal and marine tourism, small harbour development.

Members questioned the capacity for multi departmental cooperation and the huge responsibility of DEFF to ensure the sustainable use of resources in the ocean. Members asked about the job creation, the need for legislation and the Oceans Economy Master Plan.

Concerns were raised on exploration, marine protected areas, marine pollution and what role the Department plays in ensuring that it keeps the integrity of marine tourism spaces intact.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s Opening Remarks

The Chairperson opened the virtual meeting, welcoming the delegation from the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), led by the Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries. The Chairperson said that he had been informed that this was the last meeting for year for the Committee. He hoped that the Members would take care of themselves during the time that is coming, especially with the threat of COVID-19 resurgence. He hoped to see Members in 2021, in one piece.

Members will still meet for Parliament, which is only rising by the end of the first week of December. There is a special arranged meeting on 01 December 2020, at 12:00. There was one item on the agenda, namely a briefing about Operation Phakisa, which includes aquaculture.

He handed over to the Deputy Minister for her opening remarks.

Deputy Minister’s Opening Remarks

Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Maggie Sotyu, passed on the apologies of the Minister and the Acting Director-General, who were in a Parliament meeting. The Department had a few submissions to make to Cabinet. Mr Andre Share, Chief Director: Oceans Economy Secretariat, Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy, DEFF, and the rest of the delegation were present. The delegation would respond to questions from the Members and give clarity where it was needed.

Briefing by DEFF: Growing the Oceans Economy

Mr Andre Share presented. He said that South Africa has a vast ocean space of about 1.5 million km2, which is bigger than the country’s landmass of 1.22 million km2. South Africa has a long coastline of 3 900 km, which includes mainland South Africa and the coastline around its two sub-Antarctic islands, Marion Island and Prince Edward Island in the Southern Ocean, halfway to Antarctica. The ocean provides huge opportunities for economic development.

When the Department presented in 2009/2010 on ocean policy to Cabinet, it was asked about the significance of the ocean. The Department commissioned an economic study around nine sectors in the ocean space.

The ocean has the potential to contribute up to R177 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2033 (compared to R54 billion in 2010) as well as one million jobs (compared to 316 000 in 2010).

In 2014, the Department embarked on an interrogation exercise, Operation Phakisa, based on the Big, Fast Results Model of Malaysia. It included the following sectors: marine transport and manufacturing; offshore oil and gas; aquaculture; marine protection services and ocean governance; small harbours and coastline development; coastal and marine tourism; skills development and capacity building; and research, technology and innovation.

The current economic impact, since 2014, is: R40.8 billion investments and 7 385 direct jobs (6 Ocean Sectors). Direct jobs exclude the multipliers and value chain jobs. Investments mainly have been in infrastructure development (in ports), marine manufacturing (boatbuilding), aquaculture and scientific and seismic surveys; coastal and marine tourism, small harbours and marine protection services and ocean governance.

Total Ocean Sector Analysis:

  • 2010: GDP contribution at 4.4% (R110 billion); 316 000 jobs (direct and indirect)
  • 2019: GDP contribution at 4.2% (R130.1 billion); 692 048 jobs (direct and indirect)
  • Projections for 2024, assuming sustained growth: (For re-assessment in current economic climate) GDP contribution at 4.3% (R143.4 billion); 779 213 jobs (direct and indirect)

There is a need to re-assess the projections in light of the global and local economic climate and in light of the current growth rate in terms of the South African economy. A critical consideration is: “How do we ensure the empowerment of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), and SMME development, inclusion of women, youth and people with disabilities; how do we ensure transformation in this maritime sector, which is relatively untransformed?”

Marine transport and manufacturing

Overview of Initiatives

(The full details given in the table on slide four may be found in the presentation.)

A high-level snapshot of some of the ongoing initiatives in this sector was given on slide five:

  • The outer dry dock caisson in Durban was installed and refurbished, which means that more vessels can go for dry docking in the port of Durban.
  • The floating ship repair dock in Durban received an investment of R300 million, which means that more vessels can be repaired in the port of Durban.
  • In Port Elizabeth, the slipway and lead-in jetties were refurbished.
  • A new 90-tonne boat hoist in Port Elizabeth is probably the second of its kind in the country. This means that more of the fishing vessels, especially in the squid fishery, can now be hauled out of the water for annual inspection; previously, only three of four could be done at a time; now 12 can be done.
  • Burgan fuel storage facility is operational in Cape Town; it was a R660 million investment, creating 600 jobs in Cape Town.
  • The offshore supply base in Saldanha Bay is part of the offshore oil and gas complex; work has already been completed.
  • The Sunrise Energy Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) facility in Saldanha Bay is operational.
  • The cruise liner terminal in Cape Town is operational.
  • There is also a Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy.
  • The Department has four vessels on the South African Ships Registry.
  • Tugboat manufacturing: State-of-the-art tugboats were built by a local shipyard in the port of Durban.
  • The offshore diamond mining vessels, which are now being used by De Beers on the West Coast, were built in the port of Cape Town. This demonstrates South Africa’s capability and capacity to build specialised vessels in South Africa with local labour and local procurement. Currently, the shipyard in Durban is building a specialised hydrographic vessel for the South African Navy.

Offshore Oil & Gas

The table on slide six noted the initiatives in this sector.

  • With this sector, the traction had been very slow.
  • South Africa has possible resources of about nine billion barrels of oil (about 40 years of fuel consumption) and about 60 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas offshore (equivalent to 11 billion barrels of oil), but uncertainty is high. The aspiration is to create an environment that promotes exploration while simultaneously maximising the benefits for South Africa.
  • Drilling has to be done to find out what exactly is there.
  • Upstream Petroleum Development Bill remains a challenge – to be fast-tracked as part of interventions by Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) post-COVID-19 response. According to the industry, it says that the fact that the legislation is not sorted leaves legal and fiscal uncertainty.
  • A total of five wells have been drilled from 2014 to date (one by private sector and four by government {PetroSA}).
  • Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) established – emergency response. This was significant because the emergency response was looked at for the first time in the offshore oil and gas industry; the IMOrg was established to deal with emergency drills, and joint exercises with the industry.
  • Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) being conducted for the Phased Gas Pipeline.
  • Coega Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal (0.5 million metric tonnes per year (mtpa) – phased gas pipeline network (concept study completed). The company TOTAL got involved to mobilise drilling rig for Brulpadda Project. The cost of drilling was about $500 million. Recently, there was a second find, the Luiperd find, which is the second gas condensate.

South Africa has the potential but needs the private sector to invest.

Aquaculture

There are a number of initiatives, including the selection and implementation of catalyst projects; legislative reform; the Inter-Departmental Authorisations Committee; a globally recognised monitoring and certification system; the establishment of an Aquaculture Development Fund, especially to promote rural economic development and community-based aquaculture; capacity building and skills development; coordinated industry-wide marketing efforts; government preferential procurement; and an Aquaculture Development Zone (a new initiative).

Achievements:

  • 45 aquaculture projects (coastal and inland)
  • 28 projects in production; 17 in planning
  • 16+ SMMEs; one cooperative
  • 6 500 jobs (2018)
  • Production: 3 548 tonnes
  • Aquaculture Development Bill
    • Further stakeholder engagement. Some sectors want self-regulation.
  • Strategic environmental assessment completed. For anyone who wants to embark on aquaculture activity, a person only has to do a basic assessment.
  • Inter-departmental Authorisations Committee established. This looks at the administration and business processes at all of the departments that are involved when somebody applies to perform an aquaculture activity. The business processes of all these departments previously took about 890 days. This was reduced to 240 days. The Department is working on how it can shorten the legislative timeframes.
  • Import/Export Working Group established – diversification of markets, protecting local sector, trade regulations and exports. With COVID-19, there was a big impact when the world came to a standstill, and ports were closed; there was no offset for the aquaculture products.

Coastal & Marine Tourism

This sector has a potential GDP contribution of R21.4 billion, creating 116 000 jobs by 2026.

Initiatives:

  • Establishing events and routes; there are six key coastal marine tourism nodes, from Umkhanyakude in KwaZulu-Natal to the West Coast. The Department of Tourism (DOT) is looking at the development of specific routes and what projects could be implemented in an area, as well as the connectivity of the coast to the hinterland.
  • Beach precinct development and enhancement (infrastructure) and tourism safety
  • Regulations and permitting
  • Data collection and research
  • Maritime tourism, especially when it comes to nature-based tourism, or tourism that depends on natural resources such as boat-based whale watching, Great White shark cage diving, swimming with dolphins, etc.
  • Skills development. 
  • A target market strategy has been implemented.
  • Eight projects have been implemented: 1 189 full-time equivalents created.

Small Harbours Development

The initiatives in this sector were shown in the table on slide nine.

  • Completed the Small Harbour Development Framework. All of the proclaimed harbours are in the Western Cape. Cabinet decided that the Department should also prioritise the establishment of small harbours in the Northern Cape. The Department was potentially looking at, e.g. Port Nolloth; in Northern Cape, Port Edward/Hibberdene in KwaZulu-Natal, and Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape.
  • Economic research and feasibility study to commence for priority small harbours development in Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces. This would determine what should be put in place; e.g. should it be a small harbour or a marina; what will work best in that particular area; and working with the local authorities and the communities to determine that.
  • Harbour infrastructure maintenance: Implementing the Repair and Maintenance Programme: 29 sunken vessels removed; dredging completed at Gordons Bay, Hout Bay, Stillbaai, Struisbaai and Gansbaai.

Marine Protection Services and Ocean Governance

The broad areas in this sector deal with an integrated framework and governance; ocean protection, and marine spatial planning (MSP).

  • MSP Act (April 2019). This was a first for the country; and compared to the rest of the world, South Africa is the at forefront in putting in place this piece of legislation that deals with user conflict, and makes sure that South Africa better plans the activities within the ocean space. Sector Plans are being developed.
  • 20 marine protected areas (MPAs) gazetted
    • Covering approx. five percent of South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), critical habitats and ecosystems.
  • Oceans & Coastal Information System (OCIMS) implemented.
    • Vessel tracking. South Africa is able to track very accurately vessels entering its EEZ. By the speed of the vessel, one can tell if it is travelling through South Africa’s waters or trawling.
    • Harmful algal blooms. This is a natural phenomenon on the West Coast which has massive blooms of microscopic organisms known as dinoflagellates. These consume all of the oxygen in the water, which becomes oxygen-depleted. It had a huge effect on aquaculture farms, as well as West Coast Rock Lobster (e.g. lobster walk-outs) and fish that become oxygen starved. With this tool, one can detect very early a reduction in oxygen levels in the waters on the West Coast. The Department can then work with its colleagues in the Fisheries branch and work with the industry to do something about it.
  • Water Quality Programme implemented. This has been done along the coast. It is also important for the aquaculture industry and for health. The main national pollution laboratory is housed at the Walter Sisulu University in Umtata.
  • Integrated and Coordinated Enforcement Programme implemented. It is bringing all the enforcement agents together to work together so that the Department has a more integrated and coordinated programme in all coastal provinces.

Towards the development of an Oceans Economy Master Plan

  • Draft discussion document complied; inclusion of key sectors such as fisheries
  • Stakeholder engagement is ongoing.
  • Identification of issues/constraints of the industry and proposed interventions.
  • Interventions categorised into three broad thrusts:
    • Stabilisation (within next six months)
    • Revival (within the next 18 months)
    • Growth (beyond 18 months)
  • Impact of COVID-19 necessitated a re-focus on stabilisation and post-COVID-19 economic recovery to sustain current investments and jobs.
  • Further engagement required: labour unions; NGOs. That afternoon, the Department would be meeting with representatives from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). It also has to bring in the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), and talk to these stakeholders on labour issues as the Department crafts this master plan. This is almost like a National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) process; it will be used to develop a social compact.

Key Issues being addressed

Marine Transport and Manufacturing:

a) Port infrastructure/equipment/tariff structure/leases within ports.

b) Regime for management of all Government fleet/shipbuilding Programme – replacement of Algoa and Africana (initial stage). Algoa is an environmental research vessel and is also used in geological coring by the Council for Geoscience (CGS). The Africana is a fisheries research vessel, e.g. researching to determine what should be the total allowable catch (TAC) for particular species such as hake or horse mackerel.

c) Alignment of the tax regime with regard to the South African Ships Register.

Offshore Oil and Gas:

a) Finalisation of oil and gas legislation – now the Upstream Petroleum Development Bill.

b) Finalisation of outstanding matters related to the End-to-End Institutional Structure. With the latter, the industry would know to go to this particular “one-stop shop”; it would not need to go to the different departments.

Aquaculture:

a) Legislation – Aquaculture Development Bill.

b) Aquaculture leases, access to land, supporting research and infrastructure, market diversification.

Small Harbours Development:

a) Legislative review – custodianship/management mandates for small harbours and related matters.

b) Repairs and maintenance within small harbours.

c) Economic research & feasibility study: priorities being the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Fisheries:

a) Preparation for the long-term fishing rights allocation process (FRAP21).

Way Forward

  • Focus - Economic Recovery post-COVID-19.
  • Implementing interventions to remove the constraints facing the respective sub-sectors
  • Stakeholder Engagements
  • Finalisation of the Draft Oceans Economy Master Plan. The Department hopes that by the end of March 2021 to finalise a draft of the plan, which it will submit to the Executive.

Discussion

Mr N Singh (IFP) greeted the delegation, and appreciated the enthusiasm of the presenter. The presenter was also positive in what he feels is a plan moving forward until 2033. Mr Singh did not share the same kind of positivity because on the way to achieving the desired goals, although planning is important, there will be a number of constraints. It is not going to take only DEFF but also many departments working together to overcome these constraints. He wanted to know which other departments are part of this ministerial committee. DEFF is just one of the departments and it has a huge responsibility. Its responsibility is to ensure the sustainable use of resources in the ocean. When he hears about drilling and other things, he wonders whether DEFF is playing its rightful role in protecting the marine environment and marine resources, particularly when it comes to drilling and mining, etc.

At some stage, the Committee needs to have a bigger engagement with its colleagues from the other portfolio committees. The Committee has heard about the good story before. He did not know if the good story is getting better or worse; “so, we have to be a bit careful, although we have think forward”. He had heard about the Hibberdene harbour for 20 years. He lives in the area, and maybe by the time he hears about it, he will “be six feet under”, and it will not become a reality. Perhaps the Committee needs to have a bi-annual report on implementation. There were some things that had been implemented; to take all Members on board, what has been implemented? Quarterly or bi-annual reports would be helpful, so at least the public out there do not live with dreams, but live with reality moving forward.

On vessel tracking and its successes: If the Committee hears from the Fisheries branch as well, it does not hear the same kind of enthusiasm and successes. To him, it seemed that something is not being well-coordinated there, although he appreciated the planning and enthusiasm that all were engaged in.

Ms H Winkler (DA) thanked officials and colleagues. Regarding the destruction of deep sea habitats and species loss due to exploration (for gas, oil, etc.), how much influence and authority does DEFF have in the licence process and applications? How far away can exploration take place from MPAs and fishing grounds? Even if such exploration is not within that vicinity, it does have an impact on marine ecosystems, namely noise pollution, destruction of habitat, etc.

Concerning marine tourism (a part of Operation Phakisa), how will the Department ensure that it prevents marine pollution, because plastic waste, fishing waste, etc. affect marine ecosystems and tourism; the status of Blue Flag beaches, especially in KwaZulu-Natal is under threat because of sewage discharge. What role does the Department play in ensuring that it keeps the integrity of marine tourism spaces intact? How many of the 24 aquaculture projects are for new entrants? Her understanding was that most were for existing enterprises that are being expanded. How is the Department ensuring that new entrants have access to, and assistance with, the funding and resources necessary to enter into the aquaculture economy?

With the harbour jobs, how many long-term harbour jobs have been created, as opposed to short- and medium-term ones? What is the target and timeline for creation of jobs? There was mention of 30 exploration wells over a ten-year period – has there been an EIA? Are the wells near MPAs, fishing grounds or nurseries?

What is the timeline for the Aquaculture Bill, and what industries have expressed concern over this? What is the dissatisfaction about? Regarding the EEZ, how many patrol boats does SA actually have? While South Africa may be able to track and ascertain whether or not a boat is doing illegal trawling, does it actually have the enforcement resources? Does it have enough patrol boats to go out to these vessels, and then to catch and prosecute these illegal trawlers that are inside its EEZ?

Mr J Lorimer (DA) seconded Mr Singh’s compliment of the presenter’s enthusiasm. Slide three talks about a figure of value assigned to the oceans economy; how much of that figure is dependent on coastal and marine tourism? He wanted to know more about the Sunrise LPG facility at Saldanha Bay: how long has that been in operation, what is being imported, and where is it being used?

He was pleased that the Department remembered Luiperd on slide six. There are, in fact, two private sector-financed wells, and they probably cost a lot more money than anything that the state has put into it. The Petroleum Development Bill “is just nowhere”. It has been underway for eight years; it is not happening because the Government keeps trying to leverage more money out for its comrades the private sector is not going to invest while one has something like expropriation without compensation. “Reality comes up against the fantasy of these plans every time, because you cannot have the policies advocated by this government, or investment; you have to pick one or the other.” This government has picked its own policies, so talking about investment and expecting it is “wasting our time”.

On aquaculture: The Department said that it needs to put in some kind of legislative regime; his question was why. It is farming. Farmers already have to comply with environmental laws, and in this case, with water laws. Now there is an attempt to introduce on top of that an Aquaculture Bill and the Department talks like it is going to make it easier to run an aquaculture operation. It will not; it will add a level of compliance and make it more difficult. The result is that South Africa will have less aquaculture, not more. There is no place in the world where when one adds regulation, one stimulates more business. It does not happen.

On slide nine, Small Harbours Development: It seemed “foolish” to him to be spending all this time and effort developing new small harbours when South Africa cannot even control the ones it has. It cannot control Hout Bay harbour, otherwise why would abalone poachers be launching their boats from the Hout Bay slipway during daylight hours? “There is not control; nothing”. The Department talks about upgrading facilities; he thought it was the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) that paid for the upgrade to the Hawston slipway. It is the same Hawston slipway that is sometimes used by 30 poaching boats in a night without being stopped. “What are we doing? All of these plans are just ridiculous.”

There is the grand plan; the Oceans Economy Master Plan. The PC has heard this one before. Operation Phakisa happened six years ago, and almost nothing has happened there. It is still missing key elements that stop it getting off the ground. There is too much talk, not enough action. “It all sounds lately, but I’m afraid that very little of this is grounded in reality.”

Responses

The Deputy Minister thanked the Members, especially those who had asked questions. She handed over to Mr Share and the delegation to respond to the questions raised and to also give clarity. Mr Lorimer had more comments than questions, but the Department has taken note of the comments. The delegation would be able to respond to most of the questions. She had taken note of the issues raised by Mr Lorimer. The Department will take that to the Minister, so that she would know what is raised by the Committee, and the dissatisfaction with regard to the slow movement in this sector.

Mr Share thanked the Members for the comments and the questions. What he should have had in the presentation is DEFF’s governance structure. DEFF plays a coordinating and facilitating role, but the mandates of these departments are not taken away. For example, marine transport and manufacturing work is led by the Department of Transport (DoT), together with the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC). The work around aquaculture is dealt with by DEFF’s branches. Offshore oil and gas is dealt with and led by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE). Coastal and marine tourism is dealt with by the National Department of Tourism (NDT), and the work around small harbours by the DPWI. These departments are involved in terms of the governance structures. At a technical level, DEFF co-chairs the monthly meetings with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME). The Department interrogates the implementation. Today’s presentation was a high-level report, so it did not do justice to give the details, but Mr Singh’s point was taken.

On Hibberdene: What is very difficult in this space is to find balance between environmental integrity and economic development. That is why the MSP Act is so important – to look at a specific user conflict within the ocean space, make sure that the Department also protects the environment, as much as it wants to ensure economic development within the ocean space under the broad umbrella of sustainable development. Regarding the Hibberdene harbour, he admitted that it has been a long time. The Department hopes that the DWPI will do the economic research and feasibility study for where that harbour should be; should it be a harbour; can the Department justify that kind of infrastructure development in that particular area? What will be the hinterland feed into that particular small harbour?

On the destruction of the seabed habitat: DEFF plays a critical role around the surveys done on critical habitats, biodiversity and ecosystems. Such surveys feed into the work being done by the DMRE. There is the One Environmental System, so DEFF does have influence and it wants to ensure at all times that some of these developers are not near MPAs. It is a very difficult kind of compromise. There are the examples of Nelson Mandela Bay and Algoa Bay, where a particular aquaculture farm wanted to put in sea cages, and one particular area was very near to the MPA. Through the Department’s assessment, it had to advise looking at an alternative site. DEFF plays a coordinating role; although it is leading the oceans economy, the work streams are very much dealt with by the other departments.

Marine plastics and debris, and also micro-plastics, are becoming critical; 80% of the pollution that lands up in the sea is from land-based sources. The Department is now implementing a source-to-sea programme, where it looks at this pollution from the source that lands up in the sea. That has an impact on Blue Flag beaches and whether these retain their status. The Department’s water quality monitoring looks at the water quality within the rivers and the discharges into the sea, etc. This is work that the Department is currently doing in the background, but there are some critical challenges around that. The Department noted what Ms Winkler highlighted around pollution.

[Ms Winkler wrote in the chat box: Near fishing grounds, nurseries. Exploration off the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast? Fishing debris too?]

On aquaculture projects: One of the initiatives is to establish an Aquaculture Development Fund. What the Department has also recognised and looked at is trying to get the different financial institutions together. How can the Department make funding available, especially for community-based aquaculture? With these catalytic projects, a number of them were with existing farmers that either wanted to expand their operations, or diversify operations, either with other species such as kob or oysters, or combined with abalone, etc. The other projects that are coming on-stream – 19 of the new ones – some of them are inland and deal with freshwater species such as tilapia and trout, and some of the more accessible species of oysters and mussels. For example, in the Hangberg area there is growing of kob, which works with the Imizamo Yethu community.

[Ms Winkler wrote: Lots of aquaculture for high-end species and not others.]

On the harbours: Mr Share did not put the disaggregated data, which could give a sense of what the seasonal jobs are and what the full-time jobs are. The Department can provide that data in terms of the small harbours. He asked if Ms Winkler was referring to the small harbours.

[Ms Winkler wrote in the chat box: Small harbours like Hout Bay.]

On the 30 exploration wells: The Department explained that this was an aspirational target. At the time of Phakisa, the oil prices were booming; there was lots of activity along the West Coast – there were about 20 exploration rigs along the west coast of Africa, and the Department thought it could capitalise on that. That did not materialise because the industry and the oil majors were very sceptical to come into South African waters unless it sorted out the legislation. The environmental considerations are critical.

To give some preliminary figures on the small harbour repairs and maintenance programme: 380 jobs were created, which comprised of 45 SMMEs and an approximate value of R44 million.

On the Aquaculture Development Bill: When the unit responsible for aquaculture was in the Department of Agriculture, it may have been easier. But now with the Department bringing in an issue of an Inter-Departmental Authorisations Committee, a one-stop shop; all of these aspects around land, etc. These are aspects in aquaculture that the Department wants to bring into the new Aquaculture Development Bill. When it comes to freshwater aquaculture (e.g. tilapia, trout), a concern was the introduction of these species into areas where they did not traditionally occur. There was a concern with overregulation, but it seems that in engagement with the industry, it agreed that there needs to be a legislative regime, but the Department is working with it on the specifics around what that legislative regime should be.

[Ms Winkler wrote in the chat box: We need a target for emergent farmers for aquaculture. On water: (An) inter-departmental meeting for sewage discharge.]

[Mr Share wrote in reply: The local authorities are critical and we are addressing with them the sewage discharges.]

On enforcement and the patrol boats: The Department has the large ship, Sarah Baartman, which is an offshore patrol vessel; the Victoria Mxenge and the Lilian Ngoyi, which are environmental protection vessels. That is why the Department has an initiative around a coordinated and enhanced enforcement programme, because DEFF alone will not be able to ensure coordination of enforcement. It is important to bring all the security agencies together, such as the South African Navy, the South African National Defence Force, and the South African Police Service, as the Department discusses the protection of marine living resources.

The Department took note of Mr Lorimer’s comments on the Petroleum Bill that has taken a long time to be finalised.

On small harbours: Mr Share wanted to make the distinction around the infrastructure development, and the Repair and Maintenance Programme. He explained that there are also the security issues around the control of the harbours, and the poaching that goes through the harbours. Poaching is huge, especially abalone poaching within the Western Cape small harbours.

On the Oceans Economy Master Plan: He took note of the comments. What the Department envisages with this Master Plan is to focus on those things that will make sure that the industry will be able to thrive, to sustain current jobs and investments, and also to put in place an enabling environment for the industry to grow particular sectors, increase investments and create more jobs.

The Chairperson said that there were some comments by Ms Winkler in the chat box.

Ms Winkler asked how many new entrants were included in the 24 aquaculture projects that had been assisted, and how many were for existing enterprises. With regard to the sewage discharge into the oceans and the threat that it poses to Blue Flag status, has the Department considered an inter-departmental meeting with the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation (DHSWS) to discuss the sewage discharge into rivers, which inevitably finds its way onto the beaches? It has to be a coordinated approach; so serious consultation needs to take place with the other Department as well.

Concerning the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, there was talk of exploration or drilling, and a lot of the communities were very incensed by this because of the impact this was going to have on fragile marine ecosystems. Does the Department know the status of that project? What are the standards that marine exploration needs to adhere to MPAs, fishing grounds and nurseries? Is there a certain distance away where projects can start exploration, and how is that ascertained?

With regard to fishing debris, there is plastic pollution and micro-plastics but there is also fishing gear debris that ends up floating out at sea. Is there a clean-up project that could be initiated and implemented?

The Chairperson noted that Mr Singh raised a question on small harbours, but it should apply generally to all the projects where the Department collaborates with other departments. He thought that Government had helped communities to raise this basic question. When one says that something will be done, people ask about timeframes. Generally, Government does not want to announce things that it will not do. One would say that in the inter-departmental meetings, the Department must be ready to answer this question that talks about timeframes. The PC cannot be hearing about how one day there will be a harbour in Port St John’s. It does not know when that one day is; there must be very clear communication. The PC does not necessarily need an answer now, but as it communicates with people, there must be timeframes. One would say that, especially on some of these critical projects that are meant to help stimulate growth of the economy.

Mr Singh noted that the Department told the PC that in the aquaculture arena, there were about 6 500 jobs at the end of 2018. In 2019, the PC was told that there were about 3 200 jobs, which means that just over 3 000 jobs were lost. Is that data accurate, and has that number of jobs been lost in a year on the aquaculture side?

He was still getting reports of trawlers coming in and taking away South Africa’s fish. He did not know about the integrity of these vessels which are said to be able to monitor these trawlers that take South African fish. Is there no classified information between the South African Navy and other departments, and corruption between police officials etc.? It is a question of maritime governance; has this issue been resolved?

Mr Share responded to Ms Winkler and said that of those projects, 15 were new entrants, depending on the species. Concerning the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, he did not have the information, but he could ask his colleagues in the DMRE.

On the standards for marine exploration: Petroleum SA has divided the EEZ into blocks. The DEFF gets involved when it comes to the EIAs; that is where the standards, and decisions around distances from sensitive areas (MPAs, spawning grounds) and fishing grounds for commercial fish species, come into play. Now that DEFF has the MSP Act, it is in a better position to make sure that it deals with that kind of user conflict. In the terrestrial space, there is “always conflict” between mining and the environment; similarly, around mining or exploring in the ocean space, even around seismic surveys that have an impact on some marine mammals and other marine organisms.

On fishing gear and debris: This is a constant problem, e.g. with fishers that throw away their fishing gear, and one gets “ghost fishing”. Some of these marine organisms, such as seals, penguins, or seabirds, get entangled and strangled by some of the fishing gear and debris. The Department usually has coastal clean-ups along the beaches. But this starts with a total awareness in South African schools and communities around general waste, fishing debris and pollution, because all of these things land up in the ocean and have a huge impact on the marine environment.

On timeframes: With regard to the priority harbours, the Department had numerous discussions around where these harbours should be, if it should be a little fishing harbour, what justifies that kind of infrastructure, if it would be a “white elephant”, and if it should be a marina to attract tourists. Hence economic research and a feasibility study would be critical to determine what kind of infrastructure should be there.

He noted the comments on the patrol vessels and the integrity of the information. Some of the information is sensitive and is used by the security agencies, but Mr Singh was correct; hence, even the Minister asked to take more comprehensive approach to the protection of the environment in order to determine what would be the economic loss to the country and justify government putting resources into maritime security. There are two levels: one is the protection of the sovereignty of the state, which is the EEZ, and the protection of South Africa’s marine living resources. The Department is working on that, but it requires interagency work; every agency or organisation of the Department has to do with security.

On jobs in aquaculture: The 6 500 aquaculture jobs were direct jobs. Those jobs did not include the value chain jobs. Those were direct jobs that were created in 2018. He would have to check whether the 3 200 jobs were additional to those jobs. The Department used to sometimes report the jobs as cumulative jobs, or additional jobs.

The Chairperson said that he assumed Members had asked all of their questions.

Ms Winkler asked: With regard to the inter-departmental meeting with the DHSWS, is that something that can be arranged to discuss the sewage discharge into rivers, which then land up on the beaches? It is very important and it needs to be a coordinated approach. A target for emerging farmers in aquaculture is needed.

The Chairperson said that the Department had noted that, but the Committee did meet with the DPWI regarding small harbours. The PC needs to explore engagement with the other committees, i.e. joint meetings, especially with the PC on the DMRE, the DHSWS, etc. Both the Committee and the Department needs to have a meeting with the others, where both need to agree on something.

He thanked the Deputy Minister and the Department delegation. He added that it is rare to have people who can give insight and demonstrate experience. He was sure that there was a lot that could be taken from the presentation. He specifically thanked the presenter for his “spirited energy”, and for the responses to the questions. Where there are gaps, the PC would find a way to follow up, and it does not necessarily need a formal meeting for feedback on some of the issues that have been raised. As indicated earlier, this (24 November) is the PC’s last meeting. It is likely to meet next year. The Committee oversight visits will have to be prioritised next year, except when the Department talks about an area where Members live, then it begins to make sense. “But we are South Africa; we are the whole country and Members should have sense of what is going on.” But for the Department as well as Members, “we will have to prioritise that depending on this pandemic. If it is still rife next year, then we might still experience this shortage of going out [to do oversight visits]”. Committee Members would still continue to see each other as Members of Parliament until 04 December.

The meeting was adjourned.

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