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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
30 October 2007
MINISTERIAL BRIEFING: SUSPENSION OF ABALONE FISHING & INDALO YETHU 2006/07 ANNUAL REPORT BRIEFING
Acting Chairperson: Mr D Maluleke (ANC)
Chairperson: Mr L Zita (ANC)
Indalo Yethu 2006/07 Annual Report presentation
Statement by Marthinus van Schalkwyk , Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Audio recording of meeting
Indalo Yethu Trust, which operated a campaign to raise the level of consciousness around the environment by planned campaigns, briefed the Committee on its 2006/07 Annual Report, and extended the briefing further to cover the main activities for the period April to October 2007. It noted that its main thrust lay in education and awareness, and in endorsing good work done by corporates, individuals, municipalities and other bodies. It had to operate on an integrated approach and engaged on key interactions on sound environmental management. A major focus area was urging manufacturers to take responsibility for products during and beyond their life cycle. The Trust outlined its progress, marketing and endorsement systems. It further provided a breakdown of the balance sheet. The Trust would require at least R40 million of funding to run a sustainable campaign over the next two years and intended to attract additional funding from the private sector. The R20 million seed funding provided by Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) would not be adequate. Members raised questions on the efforts to educate the youth, the approach to greening the 2010 World Cup, its marketing, whether it raised consciousness only or took further proactive steps against environmental transgressors, the reasons for seeking additional private sector funding, the suspension of the former CEO, and how it would benefit from the endorsement system
The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Hon Marthinus van Schalkwyk, briefed the Committee on his decision to suspend wild abalone commercial fishing. He noted the differing scientific viewpoints but noted that all relevant information had been taken into consideration before he had taken the decision to close commercial wild abalone fishing. The suspension was initially to take effect on 1 November 2007, but was thereafter delayed until 1 February 2008. He pointed out that suspensions had been used before, the impact on coastal communities was considered and social plans were released. Representatives of the Department summarised the reasons for the rapid decline in abalone stocks, stressing that lobsters had moved into the area and high density of abalone was needed for spawning, otherwise they could not reproduce. In addition poaching had become a serious problem, with 60% of illegal catches being undersized. Members raised questions on the actions against poachers, the process followed, the social interventions, the consultation process and the problems in the Eastern Cape. Members also noted that they would have preferred to hear about the decision beforehand.
Mr D Maluleke acted as Chairperson for the first part of the meeting, until Mr L Zita could arrive.
Indalo Yethu Trust Annual Report Briefing 2006/07
The Indalo Yethu delegation comprised of Mr Onkgepotse Tabane, Chairman of the Board, Mr Muhloti Baloyi, General Manager Research and Stakeholder Liaison and Ms Zandile Nzalo, Executive Deputy Chairperson, all of whom made input during the briefing.
The Indalo Yethu campaign was intended to raise the level of consciousness around the environment in South Africa. The campaign was intended to be a sustainable five to ten year effort. The mandate of Indalo Yethu comprised of two pillars. The first was education and the awareness of the environment, and the second was endorsement for good work done by corporates, municipalities and other bodies. The campaign targeted corporates, individuals and government agencies.
It was realised that in order to achieve success, the Indalo Yethu Trust had to have an integrated approach. It therefore engaged on key interactions on sound environmental management. One of the issues was to create a culture of product life-cycle responsibility, which would urge a manufacturer to take responsibility for a product beyond its life cycle.
The Committee was given an overview of the progress of Indalo Yethu for 2006/07. The first phase had entailed the set up, which included the appointment of the Board of Trustees in 2006 and the commencement of duty by staff in November 2006. The second phase involved planning, which included the appointment of a public relations agency via a tender process, and the development of a campaign strategy and greening framework. Phase 3 was the execution phase, which involved aggressive marketing, research and liaison and putting into place the endorsement system . The Committee was provided with greater detail on the marketing efforts and endorsement system (see attached presentation).
A breakdown of the Indalo Yethu Trust Balance Sheet as at 31 March 3007 was also provided. Insight into the efforts of Indalo Yethu beyond the scope of the Annual Report, from April to October 2007 was also given. This included marketing/media campaigns, stakeholder relations and projects undertaken. It was emphasised that Indalo Yethu required at least R40 million of funding to run a sustainable campaign over the next two years and that it intended to attract additional funding from the private sector. The R20 million seed funding provided by Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) would not be adequate. A breakdown of the financial statements as at October 2007 was provided.
Ms M Ntuli (ANC) asked whether Indalo Yethu undertook hands-on monitoring of product life cycles of manufacturers. She also asked what social relief projects at grass roots level Indalo Yethu had in place. Ms Ntuli referred to efforts to educate the youth on the environment and asked whether Indalo Yethu was communicating effectively with the youth. She commented that IndaloYethu should use communities more in its marketing efforts.
Mr Tabane said that the Department of Education had a huge role to play in educating the youth. A decision had already been taken to include environmental studies as part of the school syllabus. The problem was that there was a lack of teachers qualified to teach the syllabus. He accepted that creativity was needed to take on the challenge.
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) asked how Indalo Yethu was going to approach greening the 2010 World Cup.
Mr Tabane said that the Green Movement was Indalo Yethu’s overall objective. The key components of greening had been identified by Indalo Yethu. In the past, greening had been undertaken in a splintered fashion by various organisations.
Ms J Chalmers (ANC) proposed that constituency offices be used to get the environmental consciousness message out, particularly through distribution of pamphlets.
Mr I Cachalia (ANC) asked what initiatives Indalo Yethu had undertaken to convince the private sector to fund its projects. He also asked what steps had been taken to mitigate the effects of climate change and whether collaboration with other departments and agencies was taking place.
The Chairperson asked whether Indalo Yethu saw itself as catalysing awareness and consciousness only, or whether it stood for action and would take a hard line if required to do so. The Chairperson gave the example of Eskom using cheap coal to generate electricity, even though it was harmful to the environment, and asked if Indalo Yethu would take action against Eskom. He asked how Indalo Yethu conceptualised its role. He also asked whether Indalo Yethu had considered having multiple players participating in the green revolution, including religious and civil organizations. He felt that there was nothing wrong with Indalo Yethu being entirely public funded, and asked why was there a need to lobby funding from the private sector when it was providing a public service.
Mr Tabane said that the aim of Indalo Yethu was to raise consciousness on how companies and individuals and bodies should conduct themselves on environmental issues, rather than to name and shame people. He noted that the problem with being totally funded by government would be that Indalo Yethu could be expected not to be too critical. Hence it tried to strike a balance between funding from the public and private sectors.
Mr G Morgan (DA) agreed with the Chairperson that additional funding could be lobbied from government. He suggested that perhaps a partnership between parliament and Indalo Yethu could be useful. Mr Morgan asked whether Indalo Yethu was able to determine the effect of its campaign on people. He proposed that small surveys could be conducted. Mr Morgan felt that parliament should be greened as well, and that a carbon audit should be done.
Ms Nzalo said that a sustained campaign was needed before progress could be measured. She noted that in five years time the impact of the campaign could be measured. In smaller communities the impact of the campaign was already visible.
Mr A Mokoena (ANC) asked for detail on the suspension of the Indalo Yethu CEO. He also asked what the legal status of Indalo Yethu was. Mr Mokoena pointed out that fact that the Director General had stepped down from the Board was positive, but he felt that having a Deputy Director General fill a Board position was just as problematic from an accountability point of view. He further asked whether Indalo Yethu was not top heavy, and whether overheads were not too high, given that its headquarters were in Centurion. Mr Mokoena said that the organisation should try to avoid an incestuous involvement with other government departments as far as funding and assistance was concerned. Indalo Yethu had its own task and should not rely on other departments.
Mr Tabane explained that Indalo Yethu was an independent trust with a board of trustees. There was a combination of skills from both the private and public sector. He noted that legal action instituted by the ex CEO meant that the trustees would be sued in their representative capacity.
Ms Nzalo stated that the head office was situated in Centurion in order for Indalo Yethu to be accessible to its partners. She noted that the organisation was not top heavy as only 8% of its budget was spent on operational costs. The bulk of the expenditure was on media.
Mr Maluleke asked how Indalo Yethu was to benefit from the endorsement system.
Ms Nzalo said that the endorsement system was being considered as a revenue generator. Institutions, products and services would be graded. A fee would thus be payable to Indalo Yethu.
The response to questions was cut short due to time constraints.
Ministerial briefing: suspension of wild abalone commercial fishing
The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Hon Marthinus van Schalkwyk, briefed the Committee on his decision to suspend wild abalone commercial fishing. He was accompanied by Dr Monde Mayekiso, Deputy Director General of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Mr Andre Share, Chief Director: Resource Management and Mr Johann Augustyn, Chief Director: Research, Marine and Coastal Management, DEAT.
Minister van Schalkwyk noted that each year there was a dramatic decline in the numbers of abalone and if there was no intervention there would be a total collapse of the resource. The Minister stated that there had been many scientific viewpoints on the issue and in the end, having taken all relevant information into consideration, the decision was taken to close commercial wild abalone fishing. The suspension was initially to take effect on 1 November 2007.Cabinet had supported the decision.
Concerns were then raised by the Congress of Allied Trade Unions (COSATU) and other bodies, and, having taken these into account, the Minister decided to delay the suspension for three months, so that it was to take effect on 1 February 2008. He noted that it was difficult to set a timeframe for recovery of the resource. This was not the first time a suspension on fishing had been imposed, since the Department had in the past also placed a suspension on the fishing of line fish. Minister van Schalkwyk said that the decision was by no means am easy one, but that that he would stick to his guns. He noted that the impact on coastal communities had been taken into consideration, and emphasised that a social plan had been released. The plan provided for developing a sustainable marine aquaculture industry and the issuing of additional permits for whale watching and shark cage diving. It was understood that this social plan could mitigate but not always solve problems. The Minister stated in closing that he would consult further on the social plan.
Mr Share made a very brief presentation on the abalone situation in South Africa. He stated that abalone fishing extended over a 500km section of coastline. At present there were 302 abalone fishing right holders. Abalone catches had steadily declined and in 1995 to1996 there had been 630 tons. During the 2006-2007 season this had dwindled to 125 tons. Amongst the causes for the decline in numbers were the ecosystem changes, as explained by the Minister. Lobsters had moved into abalone areas. The lobsters ate urchins that usually provided protection for juvenile abalone. Poaching was another reason for the decline, and this had dramatically increased in the early 1990’s. Up 60% of poached abalone was below minimum legal size. Mr Share explained that abalone were broadcast spawners, which meant that high density was required for spawning to take place. If abalone was sparsely populated it could not reproduce. All these factors had contributed to the Minister’s decision to place a suspension on abalone fishing. Mr Share reiterated the Minister’s earlier comments on the social plan.
Mr I Julies (DA) appreciated the delay in the taking effect of the suspension. He was however concerned about what action was to be taken against poachers. Mr Julies felt that the suspension would have a greater effect on the legal permit holders.
The Minister agreed that poaching was an important issue. In the past it had been believed that if more legal permits for abalone fishing were granted, it would decrease the numbers of poachers. However the reverse effect had been seen. He noted that poachers were often seen as heroes in coastal communities. It was felt that local governments in coastal areas should take responsibility for their areas. The difficulty lay in the policing of coastlines, as manpower and resources were lacking. The Minister said that a diving ban in certain areas was being considered. It would be controversial, but consultation would take place on this issue. He noted that there were also ecological considerations for the decision that had been taken. He reiterated that the numbers of abalone were also dwindling because lobsters were moving into the abalone area, and the two species were natural enemies.
Mr Morgan appreciated the difficulty with which the Minister was faced. He was aware of the conflicting views of scientists on the issue. He asked the Minister to provide some insight into the process, from the time that recommendations were received from scientists until a decision was made on the issue. Mr Morgan pointed out that certain scientists were of the view that legal abalone fishing could still continue at current levels. He referred to the social plan, and said that essentially the professions of people were being changed. Most had been fishermen for most of their lives and now it was expected of them to do shark diving, whale watching and other activities. The problem with the social plan was that only a few would benefit from it, whereas the fishing closure affected between 800 and 1000 people. Mr Morgan was also concerned about the Department’s marine and coastal branch, given that it had two resignations. He hoped that an action plan on poaching would be in place in the near future.
The Minister responded that the interventions mentioned in the social plan would take time to bear fruit. He noted that the process was such that both scientific inputs and managerial inputs were considered on the issue.
Dr Mayekiso elaborated further on the process. He explained that various aspects of animal behaviour were looked at. Numerical modeling was investigated, and biological information was presented to eight scientists who formed a working group. The working group debated and came to a decision. The decision was forwarded to Mr Augustyn, who considered it, reached a conclusion and referred it to Mr Share, who in turn considered the issue and referred the decision to Dr Mayekiso. Dr Mayekiso, after his own consideration, then made a recommendation to the Director General, who in turn reported on the matter to the Minister. Dr Mayekiso said that it was perhaps possible that abalone could be fished in certain demarcated areas. The Department had to take an overall view in terms of all the numbers, and had done so.
The Minister said that he had not been briefed on the resignations at the Department, and it would not be proper to discuss them at present.
Mr Mokoena said that the scientific basis of the information was not being questioned. Concerns had however been raised that there was not proper consultation in the process. The information should have reached the people who were complaining. He stated that the decision had been taken suddenly.
The Minister said that the Department had a good record as far as consultations were concerned. He explained that this was not a normal closure, but an emergency measure to address an urgent situation.
Ms Chalmers stated that much of the Department’s efforts had been in the Western Cape. She pointed out that poaching was taking place in the Eastern Cape as well.
Mr Morgan accepted that it was difficult to police an entire coastline, but also asked if anything could be done in targeted areas in the Eastern Cape.
The Minister responded that he was sure that the concerns raised about poaching in other areas were valid. He might not necessarily be aware of all the areas where poaching was taking place.
The Chairperson asked what the role of the navy was in ensuring compliance, as he believed that they would have adequate capacity to patrol.
Mr Julies noted that had the Committee known about the Minister’s decision beforehand the situation could have been entirely different.
The meeting was adjourned.
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