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Archive for June, 2010

Mozambique Gains IUU Vessel

On 23 July 2008, the “Antillas Reefer” was arrested by the Mozambican authorities after it was observed fishing without a license off the central province of Zambezia with 43 tonnes of sharks, four tonnes of shark fin, 1.8 tonnes of shark tail, 11.3 tonnes of shark liver and 20 tonnes of shark oil, for a total value of five million USD. On board were also 65 tonnes of bait (frozen squid and fish, bait, and illegal deepwater long lines). The vessel was apparently targeting deep sea sharks. Its logbook showed that the Namibian-flagged vessel had been fishing in Mozambique’s waters since early May for a species banned as a target species in Mozambique, namely sharks.
The Ministry took immediate action against the Namibian-flagged fishing vessel for illegally fishing in Mozambique’s waters. The penalty imposed was US$4 million in addition to the confiscation of the vessel, fishing gear and catch – an appropriate penalty for an IUU fishing vessel and a message for other would-be IUU operators throughout the region.
Since then, the fishing company Ompala Fishing (Pty) Ltd, based in Walvis Bay (joint venture Uruguayan company between Mabenol S.A. Spain and Gongala fishing, Namibia) based in Spain and the master, Francisco Fernandez Oliveira, of Spanish nationality, have appealed the decision of the Minister. The decision of the administrative tribunal has been released, proceeding with a decision of forfeiture of the vessel to the State of Mozambique. The Ministry of Fisheries is now seriously considering to convert the Antillas Reefer into a modern long range patrol vessel to patrol its EEZ more efficiently, with the objective to contribute actively to the eradication of IUU fishing activities in its waters and the region.
On 10 March 2010, the Iranian flagged fishing vessel, PAYAM, radio call sign 8895500, port of registry in Shilat Chabahar (Iran), was arrested by the Mozambican Fisheries Authority for IUU fishing. The owner and the captain of the vessel were charged for fishing in Mozambican waters without fishing licence. The fishing vessel did not declare its entry into Mozambican EEZ, had no logbook onboard and the crew members had no identification documents. The owner and the captain of the Payam were fined 45.000 USD and the 9 km drift net was confiscated.
The fine was paid and the vessel was released with its crew. The illegal activity of the PV Payam, registered at IOTC under the name of “VESSEL 4/3689” or IOTC Number “007081”, has been reported to the IOTC. The Payam had a 9 km drift net onboard that contravenes IOTC resolution 09/05, since the vessel was outside the EEZ of its flag State. It is also noted that the Iranian flag vessel contravenes the UN resolution 44/225 adopted at General Assembly of the United Nations the 22 December 1989 and resolution 46/215, asking States for a reduction of the number of vessels involved in drift net fishing activity and reduction by 50 per cent in fishing effort. The IOTC list of authorized vessels contains 754 drift/gill netter fishing vessels registered under the flag or Iran.
This story was originally posted on www.stopillegalfishing.com

The Minister of Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, will announce the re-opening of the abalone fishery in Hawston at 3pm on 18 June 2010. A venue has not yet been decided but we will keep you updated. Abalone right holders should attend the announcement as the decision to reopen the fishery is only the start of a process to get right holders back in the water.

Right holders will surely want to know what the TAC is, what compliance plan and budget is in place and what management and recovery plan is being considered.

Abalone fishery is reopened

On 15 June 2010, Cabinet issued a statement confirming the “conditional lifting of the ban on abalone fishing”. The statement read very briefly as follows:


Cabinet approved the conditional lifting of the ban on commercial wild abalone harvesting. The lifting of the ban will be subject to strict law enforcement to ensure compliance by rights holders. Right holders who contravene the Act will have their permits or licences withdrawn. The Minister will monitor the situation and table progress reports to Cabinet every six months. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will brief the media shortly on how this decision will implemented.

We now wait for the Minister of Fisheries to formally communicate this news to the industry and advise on when the consultation processes for the development of the fishing implementation, compliance, management and research strategies will commence.

DEA Does it Again!

The Department of Environmental Affairs is without doubt on a roll but most definitely not in a good way! DEA has now unilaterally decided to de-list abalone from CITES Appendix III. It issued a notification to CITES that South Africa will de-list abalone within a matter of months but it took the decision without consulting the Department of Fisheries, TRAFFIC, the abalone industry or any other stakeholder. It is beyond comprehension as to the arrogance displayed by this department that continues to embarrass this country.
The decision is unlawful on two basic grounds. The first is that the decision fails to comply with the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act of 2000 which requires consultation in such an instance. The second is that in terms of section 231 of the Constitution, DEA could not have taken this decision without Cabinet approval.
But what is particularly concerning is this department’s (and its Minister’s) complete and utter contempt for the rule of law and co-operative governance. In this latter regard, how could the department and its Minister consciously elect to undermine the Department of Fisheries and its Minister by not even consulting them? It is the Department of Fisheries that is responsible for the management of abalone. It is the Department of Fisheries that will have the necessary research data to determine whether stocks have recovered to such a level to warrant de-listing from CITES Appendix III. On what basis then did DEA make the submission to CITES? What reasons could they have given if they are not responsible for abalone fisheries management?
There can be little doubt that DEA has been motivated by ulterior motives because if its motives were valid and legitimate it would not have acted in this unlawful and capricious manner.
To legally de-list abalone from CITES, the Department of Fisheries would have to have been convinced that based on its research and its abalone recovery strategy (which does not exist) that abalone has recovered from the levels of commercial extinction it was said to have been at in 2007 when the listing was initially requested. It is common cause that abalone has not recovered to justify a de-listing. In addition, the Department of Fisheries would have to have undertaken an extensive public consultation process and would require the support of TRAFFIC, the abalone industry, NGO’s such as WWF and SEAWATCH and other stakeholders. Should a decision to de-list be supported, the Department of Fisheries would have to request that DEA prepare a Cabinet memorandum to obtain Cabinet’s authorisation to amend CITES Appendix III by removing abalone.
DEA essentially decided to ignore these procedures and gave the middle finger to due process.

The department of environmental affairs states that IT is in charge of boat-based whale watching and white shark cage diving. However, just to make sure that we, the public, are thoroughly confused, the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries’ new website on fisheries (http://www.nda.agric.za/doaDev/fisheries/index.html) appears to confirm that IT is in charge of boat-based whale watching and white shark cage diving!

Would it not be helpful if the Ministers of these two departments actually sorted this mess out by agreeing that legally DAFF is the best placed authority to regulate these two sectors? Or is this too much to ask?