The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is calling for harsher penalties to be imposed on sea polluters in order to protect fishery living resources around the country’s seashore. The call follows the recent incident of oil leaking from a German cargo ship, Kiani Satu, which ran aground off Buffels Bay near Knysna last week.
“We have observed the several similar incidents around the shores of South Africa in which the vessels, either for transportation and fishing are grounded or capsized with some not only leaving the government authorities with a burden to rescue them and cleaning their damage, but posing serious health risk for fishery living resources,” said Committee Chairperson, Mr Lulu Johnson.
He added: “Unfortunately, most if not all of them, go unpunished. Much as we recognise the significance of either their fishing or transportation impact and also care about their safety, we equally call for the protection of the fishery resources through enforcing penalties for non-compliance and consequences of their activities”.
Had it not been for the swift response by the sea rescue authorities, Mr Johnson pointed out, the oil spill from Kiani Satu could have posed a more serious health hazard to marine living resources, including the fishery resources.
The Committee is calling for collaboration by all relevant stakeholders and law enforcement agencies in order to ensure the protection of marine living resources. The inclusion or review of penalties for any sailing and fishing activities that may be life-threatening to the fishery resources may also be proposed.
According to Chapter 1 of the National Environmental Management Act number 107 of 1998, the costs of remedying pollution, environmental degradation and consequent adverse health effects and of preventing, controlling or minimising further pollution, environmental damage or adverse health effects must be paid for by those responsible for harming the environment.