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Archive for July, 2012

CCAMLR Workshop on PSM & IUU Fishing

A four-day workshop on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is being held in Cape Town commencing on Tuesday 24 July 2012. The workshop will focus on assessing and developing the key port State controls that African States can implement to prevent illegal fishing activity and ensure that effective controls are in place at their maritime borders.

This workshop seeks to complement and build on a similar event held in 2010 that focused on the role of flag State controls in combating IUU fishing and identified a range of actions participants could take to strengthen those controls within their countries.

The Cape Town workshop will be taking place against a domestic backdrop of a collapse in fisheries management and compliance. South Africa continues to not have any fisheries compliance strategy in place as its fisheries patrol vessels lay idle in Simonstown harbour leaving its vast ocean space, and particularly the Southern Ocean EEZ open to IUU fishing and its once world-reknowned observer programme has been terminated due to “financial and bureaucratic problems”.

Further, the department has formally confirmed that it has been authorising foreign fishing vessels access to SA waters and ports in violation of the Marine Living Resources Act and particularly in violation of section 39 of the MLRA.

South Africa will however be attending this workshop as a recent signatory of the FAO Port State Measures Agreement.

SA Maintains Hake MSC Certification

South Africa has avoided suspension of its hake trawl MSC certification. But the MSC has raised a number of concerns and put in place 4 additional conditions, including the re-instatement of the cancelled observer programme.

However, what is of concern is that the current conditional re-assessment was based solely on the period up to 30 March 2012. Since 1 April 2012, the Fisheries Department has failed to put any of the fisheries patrol vessels to sea and the hake trawl research cruise was cancelled.

In this regard, Martin Purves of the MSC is reported to have stated to Business Day today that “issues that came up since March (this year) will be picked up in the next audit and there are some red flags”.

Oceana Rules the Sea

CAPE fishing giant Oceana Group hauled a much bigger profit from its inshore fishing business to post an interim performance so powerful that a fairly hefty competition commission fine hardly provided any drag on bottom line.

In fact, had Oceana not been lumbered with the R35 million fine for transgressions in the ‘small pelagic’ sector, the group would have reported operating profits of almost R335 million – more than 50% higher than last year. The official operating profit of R265 million was a more than respectable 25% ahead of the last half year number – not exactly a shabby performance.

Read the full story on CAPE Business News.

What’s Up with Fruit&Veg?

Food Lovers Market and Fruit and Veg City continues to hog the news as suppliers of illegal fish. In the latest report, we read that their Sandton City store staff effectively kidnapped journalists who bust them with illegal undersized lobsters! 
What is going on here? South African west coast rock lobster stocks are in serious trouble with inshore stocks estimated to be at less than 5% of pristine levels. 
Food Lovers Market and Fruit and Veg City have already been busted with selling red-listed line fish species. Our line fishery is considered in environmental crisis with many line fish stocks (ie those on the SASSI red-list) considered as “collapsed”. 
We urge DAFF to immediately commence an urgent investigation into Food Lovers Market and Fruit and Veg City’s fish buying processes and to determine who supplied the undersized lobsters. Supplier processing permits should be suspended if necessary to start with and all illegal fish should be confiscated from Food Lovers Market and Fruit and Veg City and charges brought for violating the Marine Living Resources Act. 

I&J Commits to Sustainability

Irvin & Johnson Ltd, South Africa’s largest hake trawl fishing company, has committed that it would only sell sustainably harvested fish and fish products produced from sustainable fisheries by December 2015.

The details of the commitment are substantially that by December 2015, I&J would only sell fish –

Read Sue Blaine’s Business Day article on the subject here.

If one however considers I&J’s major SA fish production areas, being trawled hake, soles, farmed abalone, squids and west coast rock lobsters, most of the company’s products would already comply. The notable exceptions would be the sole fishery and farmed abalone which are both presently listed orange by SASSI, although sole is part of the MSC certified hake inshore trawl catch.

DAFF Set to Review MLRA

The department of fisheries began an informal process of consulting members of the fishing industry on possible amendments to the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998. The first of these informal consultations were held on Friday, 29 July 2012 in Cape Town. 
Many members of the industry complained that the meeting was scheduled at short notice and it was unclear what the intended review and amendment process sought to achieve. What is clear is that certain amendments are required to accommodate the Small Scale Fishing Policy, which seeks to allocate fishing quotas to co-operatives and “fishing communities”. Neither co-operatives nor communities are presently allowed to hold fishing rights under South African fisheries legislation. Fishing rights may only be allocated to individual South Africans and South African registered companies, close corporations and trusts. However, possible amendments intended to accommodate the Small Scale Fisheries Policy are misguided at this stage, as neither the department nor any of the policy protagonists (including COSATU) have any idea as to how the policy would be implemented. 
Nonetheless, it is our view that the informal consultation process should be welcomed and the fishing industry is encouraged to participate fully by providing advice and suggestions on possible amendments to the MLRA. There are a raft of amendments that need to be made to the Fisheries Regulations as well, including ensuring compliance with South Africa’s obligations as a signatory to the Port State Measures Agreement, addressing issues concerning shark management and finning etc. 
What is plainly clear is that the Minister’s stated intentions of implementing the Small Scale Fishing Policy by the end of 2012 is another false promise. Further, time has essentially run out for the department to effectively prepare for the allocation of long term fishing rights due for re-allocation in 2013, including small-scale commercial rights in the line fishery and hake handline fishery. 
To effect legislative amendments to the MLRA, which are complemented by a policy and regulatory review process would normally take an efficient department led by a competent minister and full-time senior management team (and not a lot of acting senior officials) no less than 2 years to complete. Unless their intention is a vulgar hatchet job. 
Enough said.