Lawyers to audit legality of fishing quotas
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has appointed an independent law firm to conduct an audit immediately to determine whether the allocation of fishing quotas was done lawfully.
Speaking to the media and the fishing community at the Holy Trinity Parish in Kalk Bay in Cape Town, Minister Joemat-Pettersson also announced she had extended the appeals process related to the allocated fishing rights by two months to April. This was done to enable appellants who previously held rights to state their cases.
These moves follow complaints from many fishermen who are unhappy that their fishing rights were revoked. At the same time new fishermen have celebrated having received rights for the first time. The deadline for applications for fishing quotas lapsed on 31 December 2013.
“I have appointed the law firm, Harris, Nupen, Molebatsi Attorneys, to advise me on the appeals process,” Joemat-Pettersson said.
“They will undertake an urgent independent audit of the rights allocation process to ensure it was compliant with all relevant policies and legislation. They have considerable experience in the fisheries sector and in the field of administrative law. “
Minister Joemat-Pettersson said owing to the urgency and size of the taskthe attorneys have also put together a team of attorneys to give them capacity. “If there are problems identified these will be assessed and appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that they are addressed.”
She also said the extension of the appeals period will give time for the audit to be finalised and allow her to get advice on what action she needs to take.
“If the process is found to be in order we will have lost nothing and gained enormous confidence in the integrity of the rights allocations. If errors are found, they will be corrected so as to restore the necessary confidence that is required for the sector to flourish.”
Minister Joemat-Pettersson will be visit several fishing communities in the next few weeks on a ‘listening and communications campaign’ to ensure that fishermen who have grounds to appeal are also granted a platform to speak to her before the cut-off date.
“I want to ensure that every South African citizen who applied for a fishing quota is accorded due respect and treatment and has access to the same information and advice as any other applicant.
“The Fishing Rights Allocations Process dedicated number is 021 402 3576. A dedicated email and postal address, which people can use to make submissions or provide confidential information of any impropriety to this audit team,will be published.”
Source: – SAnews.gov.za