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Archive for April, 2019

On 23 and 24 April 2019, the Fisheries Branch of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) will be holding a 2-day seminar to "stimulate discussions and thoughts on issues [aimed at] broadening participation in the fishing industry in an equitable and fair manner guided by the need to restructure and transform the sector, investments and development finance for small businesses and new entrants, aquaculture and agro-processing (diversification of the fishing sector), seafood trade and regulation."

The stagnation and collapse of significant parts of the South African fishing industry have occurred at a staggering pace over the past 2 years. Not only do we see the the factionalised corruption-fuelled battles at a national macro-level playing out in the Fisheries Branch, but a substantial consequence of this has been the mismanagement and collapse of fisheries like the lobster, abalone and pilchard fisheries. The single most important fishing rights allocation process (FRAP) since 2005 - the 2020 FRAP - looks set to collapse into failure like the 2013/2014 FRAP. 

The current infighting, corruption and maladministration afflicting the DAFF does not present an environment for a successful seminar or an ethically defendable FRAP 2020. The allocation of additional fishing rights to new entrants in the large pelagic, hake inshore trawl and horse mackerel fisheries in 2016 confirmed that allocating additional fishing rights without ensuring a proper and functioning department only supports paper quotas and fronting. The failure to restructure the horse mackerel fishery, for example, as was advised in order to support the allocation of new fishing rights, has created a fishery dominated by single vessel and fishing company that has easily been able to hold an entire fishery hostage. Those new, predominantly black right holders who have elected to try and utilise their paper rights have been offered as little as 96 cents a kilogram for their fish on a "take-it or leave-it" basis, while counterparts in Namibia are currently negotiating with Icelandic, Russian, Chinese, Namibian and Spanish vessel owners at prices between R1,80/kg and R3,20/kg - a consequence of competition. 

The collapse of the pilchard fishery - due principally to climactic reasons - has been on the cards for some time but nothing has been done to mitigate the annual contraction of the TAC to the current point where it is effectively zero. An effective and pro-active department would have opened up a red-eye herring fishery and chub-mackerel fishery and long understood what were the bottlenecks to additional investments in fish-meal processing factories given that the anchovy TAC has increased substantially but we lack the processing capacity for such a TAC.

The SA West coast rock lobster fishery may never recover from a decade of mismanagement and the addition of unsustainable numbers of fishers to the fishery who will continue to legally and illegally fish our stocks to complete collapse. The same applies to abalone. We may as well confirm these two  iconic small-scale West Coast fisheries to doppies and empty shells on our beaches. Why have we done nothing to urgently reduce the illegal trade in these two fishery sectors? We keep talking about the re-establishment of the specialised "green courts" but nothing has materialised after more than 2 years talking (it took us 6 months from conceptualisation to opening the first green court in 2003 and another 3 months for the second court in PE). 

And tuna. We all recall how elated we all were when CCSBT confirmed South Africa's substantial 450 ton CCSBT TAC (up from 40 tons). In 2016, we allocated dozens of additional fishing rights and yet today we continue to not harvest our full Southern Bluefin tuna allocation and most fishing rights remain in envelopes in the draws of right holders. Again, because fishing rights were allocated without the department ensuring that the right policy and regulatory frameworks were in place to support vessels, investments and market access. 

The problem is not "transformation" or a lack of investors or too few right holders. We need DAFF to fix itself, eliminate the in-house and institutionalised corruption and ensure that the few honest and committed staff left are supported to their jobs. 



On 23 and 24 April 2019, the Fisheries Branch of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) will be holding a 2-day seminar to "stimulate discussions and thoughts on issues [aimed at] broadening participation in the fishing industry in an equitable and fair manner guided by the need to restructure and transform the sector, investments and development finance for small businesses and new entrants, aquaculture and agro-processing (diversification of the fishing sector), seafood trade and regulation."

The stagnation and collapse of significant parts of the South African fishing industry have occurred at a staggering pace over the past 2 years. Not only do we see the the factionalised corruption-fuelled battles at a national macro-level playing out in the Fisheries Branch, but a substantial consequence of this has been the mismanagement and collapse of fisheries like the lobster, abalone and pilchard fisheries. The single most important fishing rights allocation process (FRAP) since 2005 - the 2020 FRAP - looks set to collapse into failure like the 2013/2014 FRAP. 

The current infighting, corruption and maladministration afflicting the DAFF does not present an environment for a successful seminar or an ethically defendable FRAP 2020. The allocation of additional fishing rights to new entrants in the large pelagic, hake inshore trawl and horse mackerel fisheries in 2016 confirmed that allocating additional fishing rights without ensuring a proper and functioning department only supports paper quotas and fronting. The failure to restructure the horse mackerel fishery, for example, as was advised in order to support the allocation of new fishing rights, has created a fishery dominated by single vessel and fishing company that has easily been able to hold an entire fishery hostage. Those new, predominantly black right holders who have elected to try and utilise their paper rights have been offered as little as 96 cents a kilogram for their fish on a "take-it or leave-it" basis, while counterparts in Namibia are currently negotiating with Icelandic, Russian, Chinese, Namibian and Spanish vessel owners at prices between R1,80/kg and R3,20/kg - a consequence of competition. 

The collapse of the pilchard fishery - due principally to climactic reasons - has been on the cards for some time but nothing has been done to mitigate the annual contraction of the TAC to the current point where it is effectively zero. An effective and pro-active department would have opened up a red-eye herring fishery and chub-mackerel fishery and long understood what were the bottlenecks to additional investments in fish-meal processing factories given that the anchovy TAC has increased substantially but we lack the processing capacity for such a TAC.

The SA West coast rock lobster fishery may never recover from a decade of mismanagement and the addition of unsustainable numbers of fishers to the fishery who will continue to legally and illegally fish our stocks to complete collapse. The same applies to abalone. We may as well confirm these two  iconic small-scale West Coast fisheries to doppies and empty shells on our beaches. Why have we done nothing to urgently reduce the illegal trade in these two fishery sectors? We keep talking about the re-establishment of the specialised "green courts" but nothing has materialised after more than 2 years talking (it took us 6 months from conceptualisation to opening the first green court in 2003 and another 3 months for the second court in PE). 

And tuna. We all recall how elated we all were when CCSBT confirmed South Africa's substantial 450 ton CCSBT TAC (up from 40 tons). In 2016, we allocated dozens of additional fishing rights and yet today we continue to not harvest our full Southern Bluefin tuna allocation and most fishing rights remain in envelopes in the draws of right holders. Again, because fishing rights were allocated without the department ensuring that the right policy and regulatory frameworks were in place to support vessels, investments and market access. 

The problem is not "transformation" or a lack of investors or too few right holders. We need DAFF to fix itself, eliminate the in-house and institutionalised corruption and ensure that the few honest and committed staff left are supported to their jobs.