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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS & TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
3 August 1998
FEEDBACK: MARINE LIVING RESOURCES ACT BY SEA FISHERIES AND STAKEHOLDERS
The Department of Environmental Affairs briefed the committee on the progress made on implementing the Living Marine Resources Act. Stakeholders were invited to the meeting to make short comments on the progress. A comment was made by the informal sector representative stating that there was a large concern about violence in the fishing industry. A sub-committee was constituted to investigate the comments, and was given 24 hours to report on its finding. The rest of the meeting was given to discussions around the structures being planned to implement the Act.
Dr. Mayekiso, Director of Fisheries, stated that Minister Jordan made a statement that the Ministry would like the Act to come into place on the 1 September. For this to happen there were two requisites. The first was that there was an approved set of regulations. These have been prepared, and worked with provincial representatives and law advisors. The second requirement was that the institutional structures needed to be in place. The key structures being the Consultative Advisory Forum and the Fisheries Transformation Council. Nominations for the bodies have been received, and appointments were due to be finalised by the end of the week.
Mr. September, (ANC) said that it was good to see some progress, especially with regard to the dissolution of the quota board. He would like to the regulations before they are finalised.
The Chairperson, Ms Mahlangu, noted that she had been handed a copy of the draft regulations, and that these would be distributed to all members.
Ms. Van de Merwe (ANC) asked for details on the phasing out of the Quota Board. Dr. Mayekiso responded saying that the Quota Board will still deal with appeals made against allocations it has previously decided on. The next season’s allocations would be made by the Minister, as outlined in the Act. Applications would be channeled through the secretariat to the Fisheries Transformation Council and Management Advisory Councils, as of the 1 September 1998. He added that there might be discomfort in the industry as there may be delays in allocation of rights due to the transformation process.
Ms. McDaid (the Parliamentary Researcher) asked how the structures were going to be put together. How many people in the Management Advisory Council, the implementation committee, and the secretariat.
Dr. Mayekiso responded saying that the implementation unit would have 6 people from within the department, and 6 from outside. The Management Advisory Council would have 4 from inside, and 6 form outside. The secretariat would aim to have 6-8 persons. The department was struggling to create positions in the secretariat.
An ANC member asked for more details on the possible discomfort in the industry. Dr. Mayekiso answered that the change from the Quota Board to the new dispensation may result in decisions on allocations being delayed. For example, some fisheries that started on the 15 October may not have the allocation decisions made by that date. This would need serious consideration as the fish resource may move, or become more difficult to catch. The change would therefor not be without setbacks.
Ms. Van de Merwe (ANC) asked which applications would be referred to the Fisheries Transformation Council, and which to the Minister. She would like clarity on the criteria for making this decision, and would the secretariat be responsible for making the decision.
The Department responded that the criteria would be guided by the Act. Small and medium enterprises and disadvantaged communities would go to the Fisheries Transformation Council. Applicants have been asked to give a breakdown of companies to help in the decision. The criteria still needed to be finalised.
Mr. De Wet (NP) asked whether those with quotas would still be fishing while the change occurred. The Department responded by saying the quotas would keep going until they expired.
The Chairperson noted that another meeting was required to give members a chance to look at all the documentation. She requested comments from stakeholders.
A SAFAC representative stated that they were here to hear about the regulations, and that they had been waiting for 2 months. They could not move without the regulations being in place.
The Chairperson said she would try and get regulations to all before the meeting ended. The department stated that they have distributed the draft regulations to all that asked for them.
Mr. Johnston from the informal sector stated that he was very concerned about the industry. He stated that there was violence in the industry, and that this violence would escalate. There was documentation that he had, which included assassination lists, which included people in the room. Further, he was very concerned about the Management Advisory Council, as it was a mechanism to avert democracy and create another quota board.
The Chairperson stated that she was very concerned about the comments made on violence. She suggested a sub-committee should be formed to hear the representative’s comments in more detail.
Mr. Mokwena (ANC) stated that the issue had been raised in a public meeting, and should be dealt with now. Mr. Williams (NP) agreed that it must be done publicly.
Mr. Mfayela (IFP) stated that he was more inclined to have a smaller group constituted to hear about the allegations. He motivated his statement by saying there would be little else done this morning if it was dealt with now.
Ms. Van de Merwe (ANC) agreed that a sub committee would be a better idea. She said it would be extremely difficult to handle the manner in a fair way at this meeting.
Mr. Mokwena (ANC) said that violence had been mentioned at this meeting. If that violence erupted tomorrow, the committee would be in a bad spot. The representative came to Parliament, and aired in public the allegations of violence.
The Chairperson stated that forming a sub-committee would not be absolving the committee from its responsibility. The sub-committee would meet today, and sit with Mr. Johnson.
Mr. Mokwena agreed that the sub-committee would be a good idea.
Mr. De Wet asked whether there were any other people in the room with knowledge or opinions on the allocations of violence in the industry. There were no other people.
A representative from the Deep-Sea Trawling Industry commented on the delay referred to earlier by the Department. He acknowledged that a perfect transition was impossible. If there were a delay in issuing new quotas, 7000 people in his sector would be standing around doing nothing. He requested whether the department could not engage in dialogue with existing quota holders to try and eliminate as many problems as possible.
Mr. Williams (NP) commented on the Management Advisory Council, querying whether it would not be another quota board. He noted that it was not part of the structures proposed in the Bill.
Dr. Benjamin (ANC) asked for clarity on the difference between the Advisory board and the Management Advisory Council.
The Chairperson stated that in the deliberations on the Bill, long delays were not anticipated. As the delays seem to be likely to happen, was there not a possibility that the Quota board could be given a slightly longer life?
Dr. Mayekiso, responding to many previous comments, said the Department could consult with quota holders in an attempt to stop delays. But there are future holders who might be ignored. He went on to the issue of the Management Advisory Council. The structure is proposed to assist the chief director of Sea Fisheries in preparing advice to the Minister. It was different to the Advisory Forum which advises the Minister directly.
Moving on, he added that the delays due to the transition have been discussed by the Minister and the department. The Minister instructed the department to do everything possible to ensure that the delays were minimized. The Bill had a fall back clause, section 85, which would allow the Minister to allocate rights if there are problems.
Mr. Smith (IFP) asked if the Management Advisory Council was an internal advisory group, why were there 6 outsiders in the group, and what were the criteria for appointing the outsiders. These questions were not adequately answered.
Mr. William’s (ANC) stated that it was important for the department to consult as widely as possible on the problems that would cause delays. He added that he understood the Act to create an integration from the old to the new, but now it seemed there was going to be an absolute cut off from the one to the other.
Mr. Lekgoro (ANC) stated that it was really irrelevant as to whether the Management Advisory Council had been around before or not as there was now going to be a whole new structure. The key factor now was the details of all the structures, and the different roles they would play.
Rev. Goosen (ANC) asked for an explanation of the process for appointing the 6 members of the Management Advisory Council that were form outside the department. Dr. Mayekiso said the structure would have 4 departmental officials, and 6 non-departmental officials. The role of the Council was to advise the chief director, who would in tern advise the Minister. The Minister will make the final decision, and will be accountable.
Mr. Lekgoro said he was not convinced on the other roles of the body. Why does not the Advisory forum advise on rights. Dr. Mayekiso replied that the Council would have people who can give technical advise, not stakeholders.
Mr. Mfayela (IFP) asked whether it would be a problem to amend the Act if such a structure was needed, then everyone could know the role of the committee and its members.
Dr. Benjamin noted that the Bill includes experts in the make-up of the Advisory forum. She asked for clarity on the difference between the advisory forum experts and the Council experts, including which experts had more power, if there was disagreement.
The SAFAC representative stated that the Management Advisory Council is not new. He stated that there are certain people in the Directorate who are in control. He stated that when a black man took control, the white guys set up the Council to keep control. He alleged that the Council is controlling many of the sectors.
Mr. Fredericks from the Department explained the difference between the Management Advisory Council and the Consultative Advisory Forum is that section 6 limits the latter in advising on allocation. The Management Advisory Council advises on the allocation of rights, which is a departmental responsibility. The Council's structure aims to help fulfill this responsibility.
Ms. Van de Merwe asked whether the department could trace an application for a small enterprise, and similarly for a big enterprise, through the application process.
Mr. Williams (NP) stated that he thought the Management Advisory Council was not within the law, the white paper of the principle of the Bill. If the department needs structures, they should be with departmental staff, not outsiders. In affect this was another quota board, and against the spirit of the bill and transformation.
The Chairperson recommended a break for ten minutes, which was taken. After the break the Chairperson stated that she had decided to suspend the discussion on the Management Advisory Council, in order to get more information from the department. She also announced that the sub-committee to deal with the issue of the allegations of violence would comprise of Dr. Benjamin (ANC), Mr. September (ANC), Mr. Williams (NP), Mr. Mfayela (IFP), Mr. Fredericks (Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism) and the Chairperson of the Safety and Security Portfolio Committee.
The meeting then returned to discussing the structures proposed in connection with the Living Marine Resources Act. Mr. September (ANC) noted that an explanation of the section by section role of the departmental structure was needed. The committee needs to be better informed.
The Informal Sector representative asked for clarity on whether outsiders includes foreigners, as he had been informed that the Management Advisory Council would have a foreigner on it.
Mr. De Wet (NP) asked for more information on the process used to appoint outsiders. Mr. Smith (IFP) asked for information about the EU trade negotiations on fishing access to foreign powers.
Ms. Van de Merwe requested information on the criteria used for deciding on whether a claim would be considered a small and medium enterprise, or a claim from a previously disadvantaged group. She stated that these criteria should be public, so that people could test the claims.
The Chairperson set up a meeting for the 6th August. At the meeting the department agreed to present the information and explanations requested. The Chairperson thanked the stakeholders for coming to the meeting, and urged the department to open dialogue with the stakeholders. The Department added that the stakeholders needed to do their bit by getting together with other groups in the respective sectors and talking to each other.
Dr. Benjamin announced that the meeting of the subcommittee would be at 14h30, and that the venue was not confirmed. To find out the venue, Mr. Xaso, the committee secretary, could be contacted later.
ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS & TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
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