Dept Agriculture has processed 928 fishing rights appeals

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has processed all the 2013 Fishing Rights Appeals, Minister Senzeni Zokwana announced today, 14 De4cember 2015

A total of 928 appeals have been processed, starting from June 2015 till to date.

Outlining the systems and processes put in place in ensuring a better and transparent process to the allocation of fishing rights during a media briefing in Cape Town, Minister Zokwana said that all the appeals were considered and evaluated in the seven fishing sectors- except for Line Fish as the settlement out of court had to be sorted out.

The Minister highlighted that an advisory team, which he appointed started their work from June 2015 and has worked tirelessly since then to this very end.

“Ten fishing sectors, whose rights expire from 28 February 2015 until 31 December 2015 are now due for allocation. The finalization of the appeals from the allocation of 2013 was therefore most critical as the department is now currently rolling out the new allocations.

“The fishing sectors that are now due for the allocation of fishing rights were allocated rights for a period of ten years in the year 2005,” said Minister Zokwana.

He said that the department decided to exempt current right holders in order to extend their rights for a period of 12 months in terms of section 18 of the Marine Living Resources Act, while the department put in place credible processes for the allocations.

The Minister noted that the decision was taken because when he assumed office in May 2014, the department had not started the process to allocate new fishing rights despite the fact that already in 2005, when the rights were allocated, and it was known that they will expire in 2015.

“This was of great concern as the delays could justify the extension that only benefits those who already have the rights, while others having waited for 10 years are made to wait even longer. We could not continue to subject the people to such injustice.”

The 2013 Fishing Rights Appeals were lodged by the KZN Prawn Trawl Fishery, Shark Demersal Fishery, Tuna-Pole, Oyster Fishery, White Mussel Fishery, Squid, Hake Handline and Traditional Linefish Appeals.

Given that between 2006 and 2013, 742 hake handline crew have never been able to harvest more than 2 500 tons of hake in any one season, the Minister will be considering the viability of expanding this fishery by accommodating an additional 700 crew rights reserved exclusively for small-scale fishers, particularly fishers that crew squid boats and who are domiciled in the Southern and Eastern Cape.

“The intention of this expanded fishery will be to ensure that these squid fishing crew may continue harvesting fish and earning an income during the squid closed seasons or when squid fishing vessels are not operating,” Minister Zokwana said.

The decision to expand this fishery will be taken by the Minister once the results of the socio-economic and scientific studies have been completed and the data analysed.

The Minister assured that the department has dealt with these appeals in the most fair and transparent manner and reasonable time.

“We rose above all the challenges and constraints and stand ready and open to scrutiny because I believe that will help us improve going forward.

He added that as the government expressed the intent to overhaul the rights allocation system and transform the fishing industry since 1994, “I am sure that we are on the right direction to speed up and truly uplift the fishers from the long history of abuse they have been subjected to for so many years.”

Source: SANews

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