_: The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson made three key announcements at the Post-Cabinet media briefing in Pretoria. Addressing journalists, the Minister explained key Cabinet announcements pertaining to the approval of the passing of the Marine Living Resources Bill, 2013. The Bill will make it possible for small-scale fishers to obtain fishing rights and regain their livelihoods.
The significance of this Bill is two-fold. Firstly, the current Marine Living Resources Act, 1998, does not recognise small-scale fishers. Therefore, passing the Bill will ensure the inclusion and recognition of small-scale fishers into the economy of fishing, re-establishing the economies of fishing communities. If passed, the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill, 2013 will conclude a very challenging, complex and lengthy policy process. It took the State and fishing communities almost five years to finalise the policy.
Fisheries falls within the legislative competency of the national sphere of government and is regulated in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998.
There is currently no legal framework to implement the Policy for the Small-scale Fisheries Sector in South Africa. Hence, the promulgation of the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill, 2013 that will enable the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, to allocate small-scale fishing rights and in a substantial manner, transform the inequalities of the past fisheries system.
If passed, the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill will recognise small-scale fishing and enable the allocation of fishing rights to identified small-scale fishing communities who have previously been excluded from the commercial fishing rights allocation process in South Africa.
Minister Joemat-Pettersson said, “This is the first time in the history of the fishing industry that we are amending the MLRA. This is both historic and significant because it outlines our commitment to making fishing inclusive to all who participate in the sector. Small-scale fishing communities were and still are extremely prejudiced by the previous commercial fishing rights allocation process as a large percentage of the fishing communities did not receive any fishing rights. This current state of affairs has resulted in small-scale fishing communities facing high levels of abject poverty, unemployment and food insecurity. Many of us are aware of violent outbreaks at historical fishing communities like Hawston. Poaching, drugs and crime have come to characterise coastal communities as fishermen find it difficult to access fish and earn a legitimate living.”
Passing the Bill will result in the creation of job opportunities for the entire value chain of fishing communities, from actual fishing, the processing of the fish and many other related practices.
The South African fishing industry contributes R5 billion to the country’s gross domestic product and employs thousands of people.
We call on all South Africans to work with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in calling the National Assembly to heed the call of fishing communities all over South Africa.
ACCESSIONS AND SUSTAINABILITY OF OUR FISHING STOCKS
The second announcement relates to South Africa’s accession to international fisheries bodies, namely, the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and the Port State Measures Agreement, which has opened the door to South Africa to manage our fisheries more sustainably. If South Africa joins these partners, we will be full contracting partners as opposed to observers.
The Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) is an intergovernmental organisation that is responsible for the management of southern bluefin tuna. Southern bluefin is a highly sought after tuna species, which was heavily over-fished in the 1980s and 1990s. If South Africa were to accept accession to the Commission, our country would benefit by placing us in a stronger position through having voting rights, among other benefits.
Secondly, our accession to the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Port State Measures Agreement allows us to develop a network of like-minded port states to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, strengthening our coastal monitoring efforts.
Additionally, South Africa would be seen internationally as a responsible port state that stands united with other port states to stamp out the scourge of IUU fishing:
Chances of illegally caught fish products entering the market via South African ports would be diminished;
South Africa would contribute to sustainable fisheries practices, which would benefit our own nationals depending on the same resources, and;
As a developing country South Africa could request assistance from the FAO to strengthen our measures.
Thirdly, the Minister also made an announcement naming the new Director-General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Professor Edith Vries. She has been appointed by Cabinet as Director-General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. She has extensive public service experience and is currently employed at the Independent Development Trust (IDT) as an Executive Head: Office of the Chief Executive Officer since July 2006 to date. Prof. Vries previously worked at the following institutions and government departments: SHAWCO; private practice; University of Bristol, UK; Harvard University, USA; University of the Western Cape, Associate Professor; Director: Community Partnerships Project, national Department of Welfare; MTA Consulting; and Independent Development Trust (IDT), Director: Corporate Affairs and Group Executive: Business Development. She brings a wealth of experience to the department.
For media enquiries please contact:
Mr Steve Galane, Acting Chief Director: Stakeholder Relations and Communications
Cell: 083 635 7346
For technical enquiries please contact:
Mr Desmond Stevens, Acting Director-General: Fisheries
Tel: 021 402 3098
Cell: 082 072 9396