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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM
31 May 2005
MARINE LIVING RESOURCES AMENDMENT BILL; FISHING RIGHTS REGULATIONS; COMMITTEE REPORTS: ADOPTION
Chairperson: Ms E Thabethe (ANC)
Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill [B16-2005] - this bill has been withdrawn
Committee Report on Marine Coastal Management
Committee Report on Sea Harvest and Oceana Brands
Committee Report on I & J Holding Company
[These reports available shortly at Committee Reports ]
SAHRC's 5th Economic and Social Rights Report (2002-03) released June 2004: Environment chapter
As the tabled Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill had been withdrawn from Parliament for further consideration, a briefing on this was not held. The Committee discussed and adopted the Committee Reports on their oversight visits to Marine Coastal Management, Sea Harvest and Oceana Brands and the I & J Holding Company. The Committee decided they needed more time to review the Chapter on Environment in the Economic and Social Rights Report by the South African Human Rights Commission before adopting it. The Committee then discussed the possibility of inviting stakeholders to discuss the fishing rights regulations. However the Chairperson said that the Committee could not hold public hearings, as the matter was one of regulation and policy, and was therefore the Minister’s prerogative to act. She agreed that they could ask the Minister to brief them on the regulations, but that they should not be questioning the process.
Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill - withdrawn
The Chairperson said that the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill had been withdrawn on 27 May 2005 for further consideration, and they did not know yet when it would be re-introduced, so it would not be discussed. The reason for the withdrawal was not discussed,
Committee Report on Marine Coastal Management visit
Mr G Morgan (DA) noted that since this was the year of fishing rights allocations, they should add an extra recommendation to reflect the active engagement that the Committee had with the Department on this matter. The Committee planned to regularly call the Department to update them on the progress of rights allocation.
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) said that at the last imbizo, the Minister had announced rebates of licences. It would be useful to have something about that recorded on paper so Members could refer to it properly.
The Chairperson said that that was with Parliament and that the Committee would call the Department at times to report.
Mr Morgan suggested adding a one-sentence amendment to the Recommendations. The recommendations were good but did not reflect the overall work of the Department in terms of rights allocations. He suggested that they add ‘noting the importance of the 2005/2006 long-term rights allocation process, it is recommended that Marine Coastal Management appear before the Committee to report on the public consultation processes, the readiness of the Rights Verification Unit to conduct its duties and the finalised fishing policies.’
Mr A Mokoena (ANC) liked the sentiment but felt that it was not the proper context for it. They were adopting a report on what had taken place, and this sentence did not sit well within that.
The Chairperson said that in the briefing they had indicated that they wanted reporting.
Mr Morgan said that the report had other recommendations, including calling Marine Coastal Management to brief them. Mr Mokoena retracted his statement and agreed with the amendment.
The Committee adopted the report with this amendment.
Committee Report on Sea Harvest and Oceana Brands visit
The Committee corrected a spelling error and then were satisfied with the report and adopted it.
Committee Report on I & J Holding Company visit
Except for minor spelling errors, the Committee found the Report to be satisfactory and adopted it.
The Committee felt that they should not debate these study tour reports in Parliament but Ms Zikalala said that the Chairperson could give a synopsis of the reports if needed.
SAHRC's 5th Economic and Social Rights Report : Chapter on Environment
The Committee discussed whether to call the Commission to clarify some points or adopt the report as is.
Mr Morgan said that it was comprehensive and well-researched. He recommended that they adopt it. If there was a gap in the Members’ understanding, they could call the Commission to provide more information.
Mr L Greyling (ID) said that the report brought up interesting issues and gave the Committee some guidance on what they should be looking at. He suggested that a session on these issues would be useful in the future, but agreed that they should adopt the report.
Mr Mokoena said that it would be interesting to have a more in-depth discussion before adopting it. Because of the good work in the report, it merited more attention in order to help the Members better understand it.
Mr M Moss (ANC) said that he did not want to delay adoption but felt that there were issues that they should discuss with the Commission before adopting the report.
Mr Morgan said that he retracted his motion to adopt the report and said that they should have a structured discussion, such as a workshop, since there was no urgency to adopt the report. It would be beneficial to have an environmental debate without having a specific piece of legislation or report guiding discussion.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would discuss the report amongst themselves at a later date.
Fishing Rights regulations
Mr Greyling noted that the Human Rights Commission had conducted a study looking at fishing communities and it would be useful to have a meeting with them and the stakeholders on the outcomes of that study. As there was a gap in the Committee’s schedule due to the retraction of the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill, they could use that time to consider fishing rights again, given the demands being made, and could bring in stakeholders so that the Committee could hear from them.
The Chairperson did not know of a report from the Human Rights Commission on the fishing industry. She said that the Committee could not call hearings on that issue because it was a regulations and policy issue, which was within the jurisdiction of the Minister, not an issue of legislation. Public hearings had been held and Members had been encouraged to attend those.
Mr Swart said that the concerns of fishing communities had been heard, but if the regulations were not changed, he asked what the point of the imbizos had been. There should be discussed in order to ask the Minister to change the regulations based on the major issues that had been raised by the communities.
Mr M Kalako (ANC) said that even through the Committee could not call for public hearings, they had a role to play in engaging the Department, and that the Department must take the Committee along in every step of the process. Fishing was a sensitive issue, and there were already rumours that the Cabinet decision would be challenged by big business. If the Committee were involved, they would be able to assist in solving those problems, especially because the amendments would have an impact on policy.
Mr Greyling said that they had seen civil society and the unions join together to question the whole process and demand that the Committee to play a role. They may not be able to play that role at this time, but perhaps the Committee could help to bridge the impasse that was developing.
Mr Moss asked how much change had been made to the final policy and if they could see that.
Mr Mokoena said that they should have a look at the final draft in order to anticipate the areas of possible contestation and to see where discrepancies lay in order to suggest modifications.
The Chairperson said that she did not know how they could do that because they had to work within the rules of the Constitution and Parliament. Regulation and policy were the Minister’s prerogative, so the Committee was not allowed to ask for change in the final draft. They could ask the Department to come and brief them, but they could not make changes.
Mr Swart said that they could not change the regulations, but could ask for the reasoning behind some of the decisions made. The Committee needed this in order to be able to say that they agreed with the Minister and support him.
Mr Mokoena said that the Committee had an oversight role, and that role had not been carried out in dealing with these regulations. He asked if they could ask for a copy of the final draft in order to make sure it was acceptable before it reached the public.
The Chairperson said that she understood the request for a briefing on the regulations before they were released to the public.
Mr Greyling said that the biggest complaint from the public had been about process rather than the content. Complaints were that there had not been enough participation, and that voices had not been heard. The Committee did have a role in the oversight of the process to ensure that all parties were heard.
The Chairperson said that what they were saying was that the process had not been carried out correctly, but she had asked Members to attend the public hearings so that they could be sure of what had been said and what had occurred. They could ask the Minister to brief them, but should not be questioning the process.
The meeting was adjourned.
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