Minister Senzeni Zokwana on 2018/19 fishing season

Minister announces his decision on the appeal to set aside the global tac of 50.5 tons of abalone for the 2018/19 fishing season

After the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (The department) announced the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 50.5 tons determined for the 2018/19 Abalone fishing season, I received an appeal which was lodged by the Abalone commercial rights holders and Abalone Zonal Representatives in terms section 80 of the Marine Living Resources Act 1998 (the Act).

Some of the reasons stated in the appeal included: lack of proper consultation by the department in the process of determining the TAC; the determination of TAC that was not based in any scientific and biological surveys to determine stock abundance as per norms of TAC determination in the sector; socio-economic implications in the reduction of the TAC; and the need for DAFF to take the lead in fighting poaching given the fact that TAC reduction may result in more poaching.

Therefore, the Abalone commercial rights holders and the Abalone Zonal Representatives requested that me as the appellant authority implement an alternative and viable fishery management strategy and to set aside the decision of the Delegated Authority to determine the TAC of 50.5 tons for the 2018/2019 fishing season.

I, (as) the Minister of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, do acknowledge that the Abalone sector needs a complete overhaul of this fishery management in the form of meaningful interventions from government in partnership with the South African public. I have taken a series of decisions and given unapologetic directive to the department on a number of issues pertaining to Abalone. There is still a need for a comprehensive and impactful approach to better manage the Abalone sector which is under treat yet very important for the livelihood of fishing communities, our economy and the country at large.

As a listening government, we have and continue to engage with various role players and interested parties in a number of platforms where engagements have been about the best possible way for addressing issues affecting the Abalone sector. I have since realised that a new and comprehensive approach is urgently need. This approach urgently requires action such as:

Rooting out corruption within DAFF and ensuring that officials are fit to hold office and capable of fighting the scourge of poaching;

The need to address the issue of poaching through a well informed and realistic strategy, and by involving various interested and affected parties such as the abalone divers, small-scale fishers, Abalone Aquaculture farms and the public;

A strong and impactful awareness campaign both domestic and internationally on the need to curb poaching as a nation;

Careful relook at the department’s scientific methodology and how it should balance with socio-economic aspects of the sector as a basis for important decisions such as the TAC determination;

The need to move away from decisions that would imply that the department is punishing the abalone rights holders by cutting the TAC due to increased poaching by those operating outside of the law. Hence the notion of the department managing about 5% of what is legally caught and having about 95% of what leaves our waters to be taken by poachers does not sit well with me as the Minister of the department;

Reconsider the rights allocation approach in the Abalone sector where abalone rights would be allocated to small-scale fishing sector in communities adjacent to the abalone fishing grounds. This would promote sense of ownership and accountability from small-scale fishing communities and address the matter of exclusion and participation.

Commitment from Abalone Aquaculture farms to work with government to supply abalone spats to reseed Abalone zones for the purpose of stock enhancement;

A strategy to regulate and monitor exports and market, including the illegal sector.

Therefore, I have since carefully considered the appeal, I have taken a decision to set aside the Delegated Authority’s decision to determine the TAC at 50.5 tons, and I am further determining the TAC at 96 tons for the 2018/2019 fishing season, same as that of the previous fishing season. Further to this, the 2018/2019 fishing season will commence from the date of signature of my Record of Decision letter for 9 months, the same number of months as that of the normal Abalone fishing season.

Source: Government of South Africa