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Archive for March, 2013

The DDG: Just Another ANC Cadre Deployment

The DDG of Fisheries, Ms Greta Apelgren-Nakardien, admitted on South Africa’s Carte Blanche programme this evening that she is just another ANC cadre deployment. She made two profound admissions which confirm that she is not only wholly unsuitable for this highly skilled position but her very employment as DDG may very well be unlawful and thus invalid. 
Ms Apelgren-Nakardien admitted that she was essentially given the job! It does not appear that she was interviewed for the job or that she even submitted a CV. South African civil service employment regulations require that not only should employees at this level be professionally qualified (which the DDG is not) but that proper and fair employment processes be followed. In short, a Minister cannot simply give her friend a job. Ms Apelgren-Nakardien‘s profound admissions appear to confirm that her employment is unlawful.
Ms Apelgren-Nakardien‘s second admission was that she lacks any fisheries management knowledge or prior experience. She further stated that for the post of DDG of Fisheries, such knowledge and experience is not required as she brings much needed management skills. On this latter point, it is worth noting that as the Head of Department of the Northern Cape’s Department of Housing and Traditional Affairs, Ms Apelgren-Nakardien apparently failed to achieve some 78% of the department’s own targets. It is therefore unclear what management or governance experience Ms Apelgren-Nakardien brings to the crisis-ridden fisheries branch. 
The minimum requirements for the post of DDG: Branch Fisheries were advertised in 2012 as the following:
  • The position of Deputy Director-General: Fisheries Management is available for a person in possession of a relevant Honours degree as well as six (6) to ten (10) years experience in a senior management position. Does the DDG have an honours degree or even a postgraduate degree in law or fisheries science / management? 
  • Applicants should also have knowledge and understanding of the Public Service Legislative Framework, the fishing industry, aquaculture and marine living resource issues, international law and their impact on fisheries as well as Government imperatives and priorities especially with regards to fisheries. The DDG has confirmed on national television that she does not meet this criterion by any stretch of the imagination.
  • The incumbent will be required to provide strategic and executive leadership to the Branch, promote development, management, monitoring and sustainable use of marine resources to promote the development of South Africa’s Fisheries sector. Again, the DDG cannot meet this criterion as she lacks any knowledge of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors to provide the requisite strategic and executive leadership.
Further obvious questions that should be answered are:
  • Did Ms Apelgren-Nakardien submit her CV as specified in the advertisement and was the CV submitted before the deadline?
  • Did Ms Apelgren-Nakardien submit her job application as prescribed on a Z83 Form?

We will request that the Public Protector and the Public Service Commission intervene without delay and investigate whether Ms Nakardien-Apelgren’s employment is indeed lawful.

Fisheries Minister’s Meeting with Industry

The first-ever meeting between the Minister of Fisheries and members of the fishing industry, which was described as being long overdue (the Minister was appointed in June 2009) revealed and confirmed an awful lot. Perhaps most telling of the crises they face, the Minister publicly conceded that they would be happy to receive advice from persons outside of the department. It of course does not help your cause when your two most senior fisheries employees (the Deputy Director-General of Fisheries and the (Acting) Chief Director of Fisheries) know absolutely nothing about fisheries administration, management or compliance. 
So what did the Minister have to say?

On the small scale fishing policy, she insists that an implementation plan for the fishery will be in place by the end of the 2013. Err, but she told us when this fatally flawed policy was adopted by Cabinet in mid 2012, that the implementation plan would be ready by the end of 2012. However, we have always said that the Fisheries Department’s refusal to accept anyone’s advice when drafting this appalling policy would only perpetuate the destruction of the lobster fishery and ensure mass poverty in rural fishing towns and villages. Lets be brutal about this policy. It is unimplementable and impractical. It is the equivalent of the department insisting that a square wheel will work when our entire human history has shown that the round wheel works best! Question for the department. Why did the SOCIALIST Republic of Vietnam abandon co-operatives in fisheries and migrate to individually allocated fishing quotas? Why does the South African government insist on adopting policies that have been proven to have failed the world over (nationalisation, OBE in education, co-operatives in fisheries ….).
Our advice, is that you need to go back to the drawing board with this policy. Scrap it, start again. 
The Minister confirmed that the Navy is unable to operate the patrol and research vessels and that these would be returned to the Department. My God. Its taken this lot an entire year to realise what we have been saying from the start. How many billions of rand in fish have we lost to IUU fishing because we have failed to protect our oceans? How much more tax payers’ money will be squandered repairing vessels that never required repair on such a scale before? How much money would we have saved and how much pain avoided had this Minister been mature enough and not allowed personal vendettas and grudges to pollute the waters of responsible fisheries management? Tina Joemat-Pettersson has been singularly responsible for perhaps the greatest plunder of an EEZ under UNCLOS history. 
On South Africa’s increasingly tenuous Marine Steward Council certification (MSC), she simply gave the bald assurance that “processes are underway” to ensure the continuation of MSC. Of course no one knows what these “processes are”. For example, South Africa still does not have an observer programme in place after terminating it for no reason about 18 months ago. And despite repeated promises to get the programme back up and running, nothing has happened. Perhaps foreseeing that suspension of MSC status and the consequent loss of the EU and North American markets are inevitable, Joemat-Pettersson promised to look into expanding market access and noted that during the upcoming BRIC’s summit, South Africa would sign an agreement with Russia to seek to expand fish exports to that country. What of course is interesting is that no one in industry was even aware of this proposed trade agreement with Russia! What is known is that Russian consumption of fish is growing and is at present at about 19kg per capita (cf to European consumption at 23-25kg per capita) but what do we know about the types and quality of fish they require? What about pricing? Will they pay the significant premiums that are presently paid for SA white fish? However, any possible expansion of markets should be welcomed but requires proper analysis and understanding first otherwise the trade agreement is simply pointless! 
The fisheries department’s DDG, Ms Greta Apelgren-Nakardien, also confirmed that the “department would support WCRL recovery plan”. One can only smirk at such a comment. Firstly, the recovery plan is the department’s own plan – it was not conceptualised by industry or some third party! Secondly, this is just further confirmation that they ignored their own recovery plan when determining the present lobster TAC, which we maintain is unlawful. On this point, the Minister has until 22 March 2013 to provide Feike with the alleged research studies that apparently supported the abandonment of the recovery plan and the unlawful amendment of the TAC adopted on 29 September 2012. 
On the long term fishing rights process which is presently running more than 5 months late on their own timetable, the Minister continued to blindly insist that more than 1000 fishing rights would be reallocated by September 2013. Why she and her department continues to dig deeper into this hole is beyond us. According to the Department’s most recent timetable for the allocation of fishing rights, the two service providers meant to assist the department in this legally and administratively complex process ought to have been appointed. As far as we are aware, the revised tender notices have not even been published inviting prospective service providers to tender for this work. In addition, draft policies ought to be ready for public comment and consultation at this stage. Given that we now enter the Easter Holiday period for the next 3 weeks, the writing is on the wall – nothing can be achieved during the remainder of March and most of April. But, the Minister and her DDG keeps insisting that the process to allocate rights by September is on track! Ignorance is bliss. 

The Global Oceans Commission: Cape Town, SA

This week will be remembered for two historic events, err, make that three. The third being the fact that the Minister of Fisheries met with representatives of the fishing industry for the first time since assuming the position back in June 2009. 
We however digress. The week started with the announcement that South Africa, Namibia and Angola agreed to formally and finally establish the Benguela Current Commission. This was a crucial step in the formalisation of institutional measures aimed at the harmonised and sustainable management of the Benguela Current marine ecosystem and the region’s shared fish stocks. 
The second historic event is the hosting of the first ever meeting of Commissioners in Cape Town of the newly established Global Oceans Commission, which is co-chaired by South Africa’s Trevor Manuel, former Costa Rican president, President José María Figueres and former UK foreign secretary David Miliband, MP. 
Mr Manuel has penned a rather descriptive opinion piece in the Business Day here today on the purpose and objectives of the Global Oceans Commission. The GOC is essentially tasked with consulting with fisheries and oceans experts and interested parties from around the world to determine how the world’s leaders can implement measures to reverse the present degradation and unsustainable utilisation of High Seas resources. 
The consultation process commences in Cape Town tomorrow on Human Rights Day. Feike’s Shaheen Moolla has been invited to attend the meetings of Commissioners on 21 and 22 March 2013.
Of course, one cannot ignore the immense irony of this first consultation process commencing in Cape Town, South Africa. While the GOC seeks to develop complex measures aimed at protecting the High Seas, South Africa continues to fail to even protect its own EEZ; it continues to fail to implement fisheries research protocols, cruises and recovery plans; the South African fisheries branch continues to employ as its two most senior decision-maker persons with no expertise and skills in fisheries management; and every single inshore fishery is either in a state of biological collapse, entirely depleted or massively over-fished. 

Minister of DAFF to Meet with "CEO’s"

So the Minister of Fisheries has announced that after a mere 4 years in office, she will for the very first time be meeting with the fishing industry … well not quite. 
The Minister has announced that she will be meeting with CEO’s of the fishing industry tomorrow and then brief the media. The Minister has invited the CEO’s / MD’s of South Africa’s four largest fishing companies to a meeting at the Mandela Rhodes Hotel in Cape Town. We understand that Foodcorp’s Managing Director has not been invited to the meeting. We understand that Premier Fishing’s CEO has also been invited. 
While this meeting is undoubtedly important and 4 years overdue, we must nevertheless ponder why the Minister has elected to only meet with 4 companies out of more than 3000 quota holders and why has the Minister not elected to meet with the registered industrial and right holder representative bodies that are registered as such under section 8 of the Marine Living Resources Act. She is obliged in terms of fisheries policy to meet with these registered industrial bodies which she has not done to date. 
Follow Feike on TWITTER for updates on the media briefing. 

BCC To be Signed

On 18 March 2013, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, will sign the Benguela Current Commission Treaty in Angola. The signature of the BCC Treaty will be the culmination of a two decade-long process of establishing a joint management commission for the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem Programme. In 2007, the Ministers responsible for fisheries and environmental affairs from Namibia, Angola and South Africa signed the Interim Agreement for the establishment of the Benguela Current Commission. In so doing, the Commission became the first of its kind on the African continent (prior to that the Guinea Current LME programme had established an interim commission). There are a total of 5 large marine ecosystem programmes around the African continent. South Africa is a party to two; the second being the Agulhas-Somali LME. 
Feike has had a substantial professional relationship with the BCLME since 2004, having provided the Programme and Commission with a range of strategic advice which has included the development of an ecosystems information system for the region, compliance with a number of regional and international protocols such as MARPOL and analysing fisheries and environmental institutions, policies and laws in each of the three member states. 
Noting the BCLME and the BCC’s overwhelming marine fisheries management bias, it is therefore inexplicable that the South African Fisheries Ministry has played almost no part in the operation of the Commission since 2009 (when the department of fisheries was established). This is in sharp contrast to the leading roles played by the Namibian and Angolan fisheries ministries and senior fisheries professionals. 
The South African fisheries ministry does not even make mention of this historic event on its website or via any other media. 

To Sue and Get Sued

So it has been finally confirmed over the past few days that the Chief Director in the office of the DDG responsible for “fisheries operations support” (why this post is even needed is beyond comprehension), Sue Middleton, is suing the Minister of Fisheries (aka Tantrum Tina) for R1 million. 
Ms Middleton’s claim stems from the fact that during 2012 she was suspended by Tantrum Tina while serving as the umpteenth DDG and after having just authorised the urgent commencement of an industry-led demersal research survey which would involve Smit Amandla crew. Of course, as we know, Tantrum Tina simply hates Smit Amandla and she would have none of it. So, Tantrum Tina suspended the acting DDG. 
After 6 months of being on paid suspension, Ms Middleton returned to her post as no charges were put to her but the Minister was reported in various media as stating that Middleton was found guilty of financial misconduct, which of course was not the case! Hence the defamation suite filed by Middleton.  It would appear as a slam-dunk case for Middleton as the Minister’s reported statements are not only false but clearly wrongful and damaging to Middleton’s reputation.

And on 7 March 2013, the office of the state attorney threatened Feike that it is “taking instructions” from the Fisheries DDG, Ms Apelgren-Nakardien, apparently because of “defamatory” comments we made about the woeful DDG. The pointless communication from the State Attorney was sent to Feike on the same day we had demanded an apology from Apelgren-Nakardien for her defamatory statements made before an entire room of media (which she denies making of course!). We have of course repeatedly invited the DDG to identify the defamatory, false or wrongful statements made on this BLOG or in any other media. But of course she cant.

Feike is preparing to file a summons against Ms Apelgren-Nakardien for defamation in due course. The question is will she still be the DDG by the time we get to file the summons? 

Feike Blog Receives Significant Support

Over the past financial year (ending 28 February 2013), the Feike Blog had received substantial support from the South African fishing industry and a number of foreign organisations.

Our Blog had received substantial funding from a number of companies supportive of the oversight and monitoring work we undertake. In addition, the number of readers and BLOG visitors average a total of about 850 per day over the past year. Followers of our BLOG (outside South Africa) are predominantly from the USA, UK, Norway, Brazil, Russia, Namibia, Mozambique, France, Germany and Sweden.

Apelgren on Fishing Levies

Ms Greta Apelgren-Nakardien’s press briefing last week provided a number of bizarre and wacky statements. Besides referring to Feike as a “mickey mouse” fishing specialist and she could not understand why journalists and others consider us specialists in the field, Ms Apelgren-Nakardien made the following rather odd statement about fishing levies:

“We cannot possibly use levies for everything, but you will see – I think it is only 18 percent – that contributes to our entire budget.”

The existence of the Marine Living Resources Fund (MLRF) established under section 10 of the Marine Living Resources Act (having previously existed as the Sea Fisheries Fund) was justified to Treasury at the time on the basis that the South African fishing industry ought to pay (at least substantially) for the costs associated with the management and administration of fisheries. The application of the internationally renowned “user-pays” or “cost-recovery” principle in fisheries is premised on the understanding that the broader tax paying public should not have to finance an industry where right holders exploit a national resource held in trust by the government for profit.
Accordingly, and for this reason, levies and related fees charged by the regulator (the Fisheries Branch) do not get deposited into the national fiscus – instead these fees are paid directly to the MLRF, which is a ring-fenced account solely used to finance the administration and management of South Africa’s marine and aquaculture fishing industry. 
So when Ms Apelgren-Nakardien says that the total contribution of levies to the fisheries budget is “only 18%” one needs to raise at least two eyebrows out of concern. Firstly, does she actually know what she is talking about and secondly why “only 18%”? 
Well, lets look at the numbers and see how these stack up. Back in 2007/2008, Feike undertook a detailed analysis of Marine and Coastal Management’s (as it then was) levies with a view to reviewing the department’s levy policy. If we recall, MCM at that time was already facing serious financial and institutional ruin. However, in 2007, fish levies contributed 28% to the MLRF’s total budget. Government grants and transfers (taxpayers) contributed a further 50% of the total budget of approximately R300 million.

However, the fishing industry does not only pay levies on fish landed; it pays a plethora of additional fees such a permit fees and licence fees and fish export fees.

So, if one looks at each of the 22 commercial fishing sectors and the fish landed by these, in 2012 the department ought to have collected something in the order of R71 million in levies alone. It must also be noted that the last time the levies on fish were reviewed was back in September 2010 so this is another area of maladministration. An additional R55 million ought to have been collected from various sources such as fish processing establishments, the recreational fishing sectors and export and permit application fees. In other words, a conservative R120 million ought to have been earned by DAFF from the fishing industry during 2012 via administrative fees and levies.

If one considers DAFF’s most recent annual report for the MLRF (year ending March 2012), total revenue generated is stated at R350 million with R46 million generated from the sale of confiscated abalone and the balance earned via government grants and transfer funding. Accordingly, if one was to strip out the income generated from the sale of confiscated abalone (13% of total budget), the fishing industry contributes no less than 39% of the MLRF’s total budget. And remember that this figure of R350 million includes government transfer funding to the MLRF which is aimed at maintaining and managing the fleet of patrol and research vessels which – as we all know very well – was not used as these vessels were rotting away in Simonstown thanks to the joint incompetence of our Naval and Fisheries officials.

Ms Apelgren-Nakardien’s missive about what she “thinks” about fishing levies is a further indication why one requires a qualified fisheries expert to lead the fisheries branch and why one should really understand and know the subject matter before addressing a press briefing. The financial contributions of the fishing industry to the fund are substantial and ought to be wisely used to fund fisheries research, administration, management and compliance. The fact is the department’s incompetence and mismanagement has forced industry in a number of sectors to step into the breach and facilitate and fund fisheries research, management and compliance; and all the while the department continues to charge levies and fees as if it provides any service to the industry!

We hope that Ms Apelgren-Nakardien now more than doubly values the contribution made by the fishing industry. 

Long Term Rights Monitoring

The Deputy Director-General of Fisheries (the DDG), Ms Apelgren-Nakardien, was full of bluster during her press briefing last week – which Feike was refused access to. Although the press invitation states that “all media” were invited, once Feike confirmed its attendance, we were told that only “accredited” journalists and media could attend. They refused to explain who accredited the media and journalists who would be permitted entry. This Mugabeisque strategy was clearly an indication of cowardice as many “unaccredited” journalists and members of the media were allowed to attend. 
The DDG blamed Feike and the opposition for the department’s various woes as published on our BLOG and in the various media over the past few months. She insisted that despite her lack of fisheries management skills and experience, she is more than capable to lead a specialist government department like the Fisheries Branch. The DDG for example stated that she has led various government departments and NGO’s over the past 25 years. It may be worth pointing out (again) that during her last stint as the Head of Department of the Northern Cape housing and traditional affairs department (unrelated to fish by the way but this is not important), it has been reported that Ms Apelgren failed to achieve 78% of her department’s own targets. 
Be that as it may, the DDG however blindly insisted that despite the fact that the fisheries department had not even kept to its own timetable presented to Parliament last year October, they would still be able to allocate fishing rights timeously by September 2013. We have explained in previous articles on this BLOG why fishing rights simply cannot be allocated within the constraints of our laws this year or even before the first quarter of next year. 
However, if the DDG insists on hurtling to the edge of the cliff at break-neck speed (albeit with the fishing industry tied to her waist), we are duty-bound to monitor adherence to the milestones she has set in the amended timetable she handed out to the media last week. 
Milestone 1: Appointment of service providers to review policies and administer and “operationalise” long term fishing rights process. This is supposed to have occurred in March 2013. Not done yet. See our previous BLOG article for more on this milestone

Milestone 2: Public consultation process on policies during March and April 2013. Not wanting to sound too critical, but how can there be a public consultation process on policies during March and April when the service provider charged with reviewing the current policies will only be appointed in March? And then, once the service provider completes the review, there will need to be internal departmental discussions and debates on the review and the current policy-framework will then need to be amended, approved by the Minister and then gazetted for public comment. Again, not to be too critical, but this took 8 months back in 2004 when the last long term fishing rights process was being developed. The DDG reckons that this entire complex policy review process will be completed in about 30 days?
(Of course, the DDG may point out that that last process was not led by her uber-super efficient team who will not get waylaid by unnecessary details involving ‘fisheries’. Afterall the previous long term rights allocation process was led by inter alia, fisheries and administrative lawyers and a former Norwegian fisheries minister who is a complete stickler for perfection and really people, how hard can it be to read a couple of policies over the weekend on line fish, squid, demersal shark, prawn trawl, delete the old stuff and the stuff you dont like and insert some new nice sounding stuff?)
Seriously though, it is quite difficult for us to swallow this nonsense the department calls its “proposed road map” for the allocation of long term fishing rights especially since Milestone 1 has been missed and Milestone 2 is already impossible to achieve unless the DDG is able to manipulate the time-space continuum.