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LAND, AGRICULTURE & ENVIRONMENT AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
6 May 1998
NEGOTIATING AND FINAL MANDATES ON MARINE LIVING RESOURCES BILL [B94-97]
Following the meeting on Monday 04/05/98, the representatives returned having discussed their mandates further with each of their provinces. KwaZulu Natal (Mr Bhengu - IFP and Mr Cwele - ANC) stated that, although they were willing to stand down on some of their previously proposed amendments, they would not change their position regarding section 14.1 which deals with the role of the Minister in determining the total allowable catch and total applied effort with respect to fisheries planning. They felt that it was necessary for the Minister to first consult with the provincial premieres before making such decisions. They also expressed their continuing concern at the exclusion of recreational fishers in section 24. Mr Bhengu then went on to stress the importance of passing the Bill without deficiencies.
Mr de Wet (Eastern Cape) said that they would withdraw their proposed amendment regarding the need for scientific input on the consultative advisory forum. However, he said that the Eastern Cape would still propose amendments to section 14.1 and section 24.
At this point, Ms Mothoagae (ANC) stressed the importance of including all the provinces, even those which did not include part of the coastline in decision-making processes. Mr Gous (Free State - Freedom Front) responded to this by suggesting that the maritime provinces should be looking more deeply into the problems which directly concerned them but that the role of the other provinces should not be negated. In addition, Mr Gous suggested that the other provinces should listen to the views of the maritime provinces since it is in these regions that the expertise on marine issues are concentrated and that the Marine Living Resources Bill should not be passed simply because of pressure from the Minister. He said that the committee had an important role to play in ensuring that good legislation was passed.
The Northern Province and Mpumalanga stated that they had no amendments to propose but Mr Grove (Mpumalanga - ANC) , having been absent from the previous meeting, asked for clarity on some of the issues before the committee.
The Departmental representatives then responded to some of the queries raised by KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape. They referred to section 41 in the Constitution which deals with the principles of co-operative government and intergovernmental relations. They said that some of the concerns raised over the amount of consultation which would occur with the provinces before decisions were taken were unwarranted since, according to the Constitution, all spheres of government are obliged to co-operate with one another and this includes informing one another of, and consulting one another on matters of common interest.
With regard to the suggestions to replace the word "fauna and flora" with "biodiversity" in a part of the bill, the department responded that this change in terminology implied a much larger natural sphere requiring protection and that there was other legislation which deals with biodiversity as a separate entity.
In response to the questions raised about the exclusion of recreational fishers from section 24, they said that sections 16 and 20 in the Bill dealt adequately with this issue and that section 77 (2e) made provision for the protection of recreational fisheries. They went on to comment on the pressure being placed on the Department to get the Bill passed so that it can be implemented as soon as possible.
At this point Mr Bhengu expressed his disappointment at the Department's request to speed up the process of passing the Bill, as it differed from their viewpoint at the previous meeting, where they had accepted that there were deficiencies in the Bill. Mr Bhengu said that he was expecting the Department to come up with some amendments of their own in order to assist the process and that he was disappointed in their response to the issue.
Mr de Wet commented that he was not convinced by the Department in the way that they had side-stepped the issue of amending section 24 of the Bill. He then went on to ask where in the Bill is the Minister entitled to reduce the fishing season to protect the resource. He was referred (by the Department) to section 16 which deals with emergency measures which can be taken.
Mr Gous (Free State - Freedom Front) then asked the Department to clearly state that they believed the bill to be sound and without deficiencies. They responded saying that the bill was efficient enough to achieve its aims.
Mr Bhengu expressed his concern that legislation was not clear enough on section 24 and that the reference to other sections by the Department would make the understanding of the Bill by ordinary citizens very difficult. He anticipated that there would be problems if the Bill was passed in its present form. Mr de Wet requested that the Department provide written motivation for leaving section 24 as it is.
The Chairperson (Mr Nogumla - ANC) suggested that another meeting be scheduled so that voting could occur. He said that this would give the provinces time to re-think their positions regarding the Bill so that they could hopefully reach some consensus on what should be done. He suggested that there be inter-provincial discussions so that everyone would understand the positions being taken by the others so that voting could take place and some resolution reached.
The next meeting will be held on Monday 11/05/98.
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