ATC131125: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on Public Hearings on the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill [B30 – 2013] dated 13 November 2013.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on Public Hearings on the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill [B30 – 2013] dated 13 November 2013.

1. Introduction

The Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill [B30 – 2013] was tabled in Parliament and referred to the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on 13 September 2013. After a briefing on the Amendment Bill by Parliamentary officials and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the Committee decided on 03 October 2013 to hold Public Hearings on the Amendment Bill.

The Public Hearings on the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill were held in Parliament on 15 and 16 October 2013. In addition to DAFF, the following organisations and individuals submitted and made presentations on the Amendment Bill:

Name

Organisation

Mr Jeremy Marillier

FishSA

Mr Christiaan Adams

Coastal Link South Africa

Mr Henk Smith

Legal Resources Centre

Mr Shaheen Moolla

Feike

Mr Pedro Garcia

South African United Fishing Front (SAUFF)

Mr Tony Ehrenreich

Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)

Mr Gerald Mantogue

Suid- Afrikaanse Verenigde Vissers Front (SAVVF)

Mr Johannes Engelbrecht

Individual

Ms Michelle Yon

First Indigenous Women of Hout Bay

Mr Joseph Claassen

Individual

Mr Gavin Roberts

Ibhayi Fishing

Mr Dullah Aziz

Hottentots Holland Fishers’ Association

Mr Andrew Johnston

Artisanal Fishers Association

Mr Llewellyn Owies

Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU)

Ms Mymeona Poggenpoel

West Coast Rock Lobster Association

Mr Naseegh Jaffer

Masifundise

Mr Lulamile Ponono

Individual – Eastern Cape)

Mr Lindani Ngubane

Individual – KwaZulu-Natal

Mr Neil Joshua

Individual – Paternoster

Mrs Solene Smith

Individual – Langebaan

Mr Hahn Goliath

Individual – Doring Bay

Mrs Sarah Niemand

Individual – Buffeljags

Mr Salie Syster

Individual – Stanford

Mr Sandile Mbali

Individual – Khayelitsha

Mr Dawie Phillips

Individual – Northern Cape

Mr Maxwell Moss

Individual – Western Cape

Ms Nomathemba Sotomela

Individual – Khayelitsha

Mr Clifford Gordon Louw

Individual – Hout Bay

Mr Gerald Cloete

Representative of Youth Group of Small-scale Fishers

Mr Andries van der Merwe

Helderberg Artisanal Fisheries

Professor Doug Butterworth

University of Cape Town

Mr Hendricks Latola

Ocean View Community Fishing Forum

Mr Charles America

Ocean View/Witsand Artisanal Fishers Association

Mr Gary Thompson

Individual

Mr Justino Ferreira

Seafood Palace (owner)

Ms Ndileka Mavuso

Individual

2. Terms of Reference

The objective of the Public Hearings was to solicit public and civil society views on the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill that has been referred to the Portfolio Committee; and the inclusiveness of the public participation process that was carried by DAFF before the Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament. The Committee wanted to determine how the Amendment Bill, if passed, will impact people’s lives, particularly the previously disadvantaged small-scale fishers. In this regard, the Committee issued advertisements on national and provincial radio and print media, inviting interested people or interest groups to make submissions to the Committee on the Amendment Bill. Various organisations and individuals as listed in Section 1, submitted written submissions, expressing their views on the Bill, with most requesting to make oral presentations in Parliament on 15 and 16 October 2013.

3. Findings from Public Hearings

The following is the summary of key issues that were raised by the public on the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill:

Support for the Bill

·         Most individuals and groups were happy and supported the Amendment Bill as a tool to transform the fishing industry to address the imbalances of the past and to improve the lives of coastal communities who have been previously marginalised. The Amendment Bill was seen as providing legal recognition to small-scale fishers.

  • Some groups commented that the Amendment Bill needs to promote integrated fishing development including allocation of fishing rights to communities; they support co-management of resources where all stakeholders are actively involved. A presenter from KwaZulu-Natal commented that they would like for iSimangaliso Wetland Park to be part of the stakeholder group for co-management of fisheries resources as they are often a stumbling block.

·         Some groups also advocated for the recognition of indigenous knowledge of traditional fishers and its inclusion in co-management activities. It was reported that DAFF does not involve small-scale fishers in Scientific Working Groups that conduct stock assessments and determine periodic allocations of total allowable catch and total applied effort.

  • The need for infrastructural support in the form of good quality boats, fish processing establishments and other relevant equipment was emphasised; and it was suggested that fishers should be consulted in this regard. An example was made of boats that were distributed to some small-scale fishers by the Department of Trade and Industry, which have since broke as they were not of good quality and were not necessarily designed for the fishing activities that the fishers engage in.

Definitions and Wording

·         Clarity was sought on the blanket approach that is used in the Amendment Bill to replace subsistence fishers with small-scale fishers as the two categories do not necessarily mean the same thing or operate similarly. It was reported that small-scale fishers have always existed and they pay levies but subsistence fishers are not expected to pay levies as they fish for their own consumption. Including subsistence under small-scale may favour one category over the other. To avoid negative socio-economic impact on subsistence fishers, who might be expected to pay levies, it was proposed that small-scale fishers must be added as a third category.  If then, subsistence fishers are classified as small-scale, as proposed in the Bill, then they will be expected to pay levies in terms of the principal Act, the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA), 1998 (Act No. 18 of 1998) as this is not clarified in the Amendment Bill.

·         Possible conflict of the Bill with Chapter 6 of the National Development Plan (NDP).

·         Concern regarding the wording in Section 2 of the Amendment Bill, clauses 2(k) and 2 (l), as well as definitions on clause 2(m) (e.g. multi-species), which can cause possible future misinterpretation. It was reported that the wording of section 2(k) may be understood as contradicting the provisions of the MLRA which pertains to giving controlled or limited access to fisheries resources. The clause mentions “...equitable access to...” while in reality there will be limited access due to the state of the resources. An alternative was suggested as “... equitable opportunities for access to...” The wording of clause 2(l) was said not to help effect any change because addressing food security, socio-economic development and poverty alleviation are already objectives of fisheries. An alternative was suggested as “the need to give due weight in fisheries management to the objectives of contributing to food security...”

Cooperatives

·         Most of the groups that supported the Bill also supported the cooperatives initiative as groups give people more bargaining power. However, it was suggested that cooperatives should not be mandatory but individuals should be given a choice to operate individually or, as a collective in the form of a cooperative as suggested in the Amendment Bill. It was also emphasised that all small-scale fishers must be supported irrespective of how they choose to be allocated fishing rights (cooperatives, trusts, individuals, etc.).

·         There were some concerns that were raised about cooperatives and presenters highlighted that previous cooperatives failed because rights were not given to individual cooperative members but to business entities that tried to operate as cooperatives. When those “cooperatives” collapsed, individual members lost their rights and were left destitute. Another reason that was cited for the collapse of cooperatives was lack of financial and technical support, as well as training from DAFF.

·         While most small-scale fishers supported the idea of cooperatives, there was more interest on implementation and further clarity was sought on how cooperatives are going to work, as well as the support that will be given to cooperatives in terms of technical and financial support, capacity building (training) and to ensure good governance. There was also an emphasis on capacitating fishers and cooperatives with training on value addition and business management.

Consultation and inclusiveness

·         Recognition of customary rights, which are recognised in the Small-scale Fisheries Policy but not in the MLRA and the Amendment Bill, was overemphasised. The Legal Resources Centre reported that custodians of customary rights were not included in the consultations for the Bill. Parliament was mandated to ensure that changes that reflect customary rights are effected in the 2014 and other future amendments to the MLRA.

·         Recognition of women when allocating fishing rights and providing appropriate infrastructural and other support to ensure that women benefit from the implementation of the Amendment Bill.

·         Representatives of some of the organisations, namely, the South African United Fishing Front, Feike, Hottentots Holland Fishers Association, Artisanal Fishers Association (Mr Andrew Johnston), Ocean View/Witsand Artisanal Fishers Association, as well as Mr Johannes Engelbrecht reported that the consultation process for both the Small-scale Fisheries Policy and the Amendment Bill was not inclusive. The South African United Fishing Front confirmed that some of its members were excluded from public consultation meetings and DAFF refused to meet with them. It was reported that DAFF told some community members that if they are not happy with some areas in the SSF Policy and consequently, the proposed Amendments in the Bill, they should find other alternatives.

Other matters of concern and proposals

·         The need to address exploitation which happens throughout the fisheries value chain. It was reported that small-scale fishers are exploited by unscrupulous people who negotiate deals with DAFF claiming to be legal representatives of fishing communities whilst they are working for themselves. It was reported that DAFF seems to be supporting the exploitation as they do not seek verification from the coastal communities before working with these illegitimate people.  DAFF was asked to ensure that it removes middle men that are pushing small-scale fishers deeper into poverty.

·         Application of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 (Act No. 75 of 1997) and the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (Act No. 66 of 1995) to the fishing sector to address exploitation as fisher folks work under very difficult circumstances that are not monitored. It was also commented that while boat owners pay fuel levies, there are no benefits from such when accidents happen at sea, as is the case with road accidents.

·         Socio-economic, biological and ecological research regarding the impact of the amendments to some subsistence fishers, were not undertaken before the Amendment Bill was finalised and tabled in Parliament. In addition, market research and assessment of the sustainability of the proposed basket of fish for small-scale fishers were not done.

·         The high and conflicting costs of implementing the Amendment Bill (R424 million) and the Small-scale Fisheries Policy (R576 million) and the impact on the fishing industry should the implementation costs not be fully funded.

·         It was reported that most of the hake (approximately 90%) that is caught in the country gets exported due to higher returns in foreign markets. It was suggested that there should be a hake quota that is specifically allocated to the industry for local sales and consumption.

4. Conclusion

The Committee concluded that the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill has been long overdue but the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) need to strengthen relations with all fisheries stakeholders; ensure that it provides the required financial, technical and infrastructural support to small-scale fishers; address and respond to all the issues that have been raised by stakeholders through submissions and presentations during the 2 days of the Public Hearings including the costs of implementing the Amendment Bill.

5. Recommendations

Having received presentations and public opinions on the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill [B30 - 2013] and responses from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the Committee recommended that:

·         DAFF should respond in writing to all other issues that have not been appropriately covered in the responses before the next deliberation meeting of the Committee.

·         DAFF should consider including customary rights in the Amendment Bill and ensure that indigenous knowledge of traditional fishers is considered in its Scientific Working Groups.

·         DAFF should ensure that there are programmes to address transformation in the fishing industry.

·         DAFF should provide financial and other required assistance to small-scale fishers and collaborate with other Departments such as the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) in supporting cooperatives.

·         DAFF should present to the Committee a report on the composition of the basket of species as suggested in the Amendment Bill by the next meeting on 22 October 2013.

Report to be considered.

Documents

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