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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
5 April 2005
COMMERCIAL FISHING RIGHTS: DEPARTMENT BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms E Thabethe (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Allocation of Long Term Commercial Fishing Rights
The Department briefed theCommittee on the allocation of medium and long-term fishing rights and outlined the development of South Africa’s fishing policy. The Department explained fishing policy issues, how rights were allocated, and the feedback the Department had received. They also mentioned the status of fisheries in achieving sustainability and promoting conservation of resources. The Committee asked about the incorporation of indigenous knowledge to the scientific research of the fisheries, black and female equity and ownership in fisheries, and better co-ordination of the fishing rights application process.
The Committee then discussed its upcoming Programme and travel schedule.
The Chairperson introduced two delegates of the Department: Mr Horst Kleinschmidt (Deputy Director General: Marine And Coastal Management) and Mr Shaheen Moolla (Chief Director: Monitoring, Control And Surveillance), who then briefed the Committee on the allocation of long term commercial fishing rights.
Mr Kleinschmidt said the Department was committed to fulfilling its obligations to Black Economic Employment Act (BEE) and the Promotion of Access to Information Act. The Department had recently conducted 52 meetings with approximately 3 500 people from fishing communities. Officials had ensured the allocation process was open and fair. The Department had been receiving feedback from fisheries on the allocation process and on the application fees.
Mr Moolla said the allocation of commercial fishing rights has undergone a major transformation from 1994 when 1% of fisheries were black owned and none were black-managed to 2005, when 66% of all fishing rights were held by blacks or black-controlled entities. Other successes in the fishing industry included the South African hake fishery, the only hake fishery in the world to be certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. This certification allowed the hake deep-sea trawl fishery to enter into European markets. It comprised 37% of the South African fishing industry.
A major challenge in the industry was overexploitation of fisheries. South Africa’s fishing policy contained four core components: promoting BEE, recognising the biology of the target resource and promoting sustainability, recognising the ecology in which the target resource was found, and recognising the importance of economic and social development.
Mr Kleinschmidt explained that the management of the fisheries was divided into four clusters of applicants, identified as A - D. Clusters A and B were comprised of companies, both large and small, and that C and D were those that individually apply. Due to the limited number of allocations available and the increasing number of applicants (currently between 10 000 to 12 000), many applications would be denied in the next application process. The Department had tested and was implementing a pre-allocation list that would suggest to communities which applications were likely to be successful quota holders. It would also allow communities to comment on the list before the allocations were finalised.
To allocate the rights, the Department has maintained a strict process of integrity by comparing the applications of new applicants with other new applicants instead of unfairly comparing them with established applicants. The Department was therefore attempting to be systematic. Beyond fishing allocations, the Department also aimed to expand access to non-consumptive tourism activities such as scuba diving, whale watching, and shark cage diving. It had worked to invest in twelve new fisheries and further aquaculture implementation. Overall the Department worked to further economic development in fisheries and the fishing communities.
Mr A Mokoena (ANC) asked about access to finances for Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).
Mr G Morgan (DA) asked if the rights allocated in Clusters C and D were viable enough that SMEs could be operated. He questioned how detailed the application process was, especially in regards to the standards outlined in the Access to Information Act.
Mr L Greyling (ID) asked that the Department raise the level of trust between the Department and scientists and the fishing communities. Indigenous knowledge systems and environmental sustainability should be part of the fishing policy to strengthen the relationship between the two groups.
Ms J Chalmers (ANC) said 75% of SMEs must receive their income from fishing, and this was problematic because of the uncertainty of the fishing industry.
Mr K Durr (ACD) asked if any help was given to those that had to exit the fishing industry to gain new skills or be freed of specialist equipment they had.
Mr Kleinschmidt responded that SMEs were provided with long-term support mechanisms to assist them such as micro-finance skills and support training. Clusters C and D rights were not necessarily viable, but that it was a livable income, estimated between R75 000 to 150 000 per year.
Mr Moolla responded that because of the immense paperwork required by the Access to Information Act, the Department streamlined the process by making much of the information automatically available. This was seen as a cost-efficient measure.
Ms N Mdaka (UDM) asked for clarification regarding the number of persons employed in each Cluster.
Ms R Ndzanga (ANC) asked about the participation of women in fisheries.
Mr J Arendse (ANC) raised the question of geographical justice in the allocation of rights, a topic that had also been a consideration during a past abalone decision. Geographical justice was potentially a problem in the Department's method of providing lists to communities of the likely successful applicants. He also asked how the Department planned on responding to objections from fishing communities.
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) said that the Department's efforts at BEE and women's equity were commendable, but still were not occurring in large enough numbers, especially in the area of black and female management.
Mr Greyling said it was important to recognise and encourage the contribution of indigenous fishing knowledge to the scientific community. Fishing communities can show scientists where certain fish travel and the location of stocks. They should work in co-management. He suggested looking at the example of the Phillipines and how that country encouraged co-management between the communities and department and had successfully combated poaching.
The Chairperson asked what tools the Department was using to monitor the allocations if problems arose. She also questioned the Department's mention of tourism-based activities such as scuba diving, whale watching, and shark cage diving. These were more likely white-oriented activities.
Mr Kleinschmidt responded that the Department was working on qualitative BEE rather than quantitative. It was more important to have significant added value to the purpose of transformation rather than simply increased numbers. The Department had experienced BEE fraud, or 'fronting,' where entities claimed to have black shareholders but these shareholders had never paid. Many women were leading in the fishing industry and those examples needed to be promoted to encourage more women. A problem was that many communities expressed objection to having women in the industry since they had not traditionally been active there. People with physical disabilities were also active in many fishing communities.
Mr Moolla said new applicants were sought in each sector, especially to replace those that had been failing to reach quotas. He said that the abalone example that had been cited was not an issue now, since it was allocated in 2003 and so was not up for the application process in 2005. He affirmed the importance of the community knowledge in the development of research and welcomed the idea of co-management. Geographic justice was included in the policy under the concept of local economic development and was important for every size of fishery. The Department was in the upcoming weeks putting up for public comment the non-consumptive uses such as the shark diving to include more of the communities that were traditionally not included in these activities.
Mr Morgan asked for a clearer definition of new entrants. It was not clear if people who had applied in the past or been denied rights were still considered new entrants if they reapplied.
Mr Arendse asked if the Department had provisions for passing down rights within a family. If a family were allocated a right and the head of household died, the right should be passed down within the family so that their way of life was not devastated.
Mr Kleinschmidt replied the issue of passing down the rights through families was important because it was often a local tradition and that the Department would consider it.
Mr D Oliphant (ANC) asked when the new application form would be ready and when the fishing season would open.
The Chairperson asked if the Department offered assistance to people filling in the application forms.
Mr Kleinschmidt responded that the current rights would expire at the end of the year and so then the new application process would begin. The fishing season was dependent upon the biology of the fish and each season was different. The Department was currently working on developing the application form and modifying the way the questions were written to make them more user-friendly. The Cluster C and D application forms would have explanatory notes for every question in three other languages.
The Chairperson ended the fishing rights discussion and opened part two of the agenda. The next meeting was 16 May and that would allow time for discussion of what arose from the public debate about the rights allocation. Members went over the programme and suggested itinerary changes. Scheduling and cost issues were discussed. Suggestion was made to have a nuclear summit or a public forum about nuclear issues.
The meeting was adjourned.
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