I will today be writing to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, requesting her to provide a plan of action to prevent the potential loss of over 5 000 jobs in the fishing industry.
Reports reveal that the Fisheries sector stands to lose up to R3 billion because Minister Joemat-Pettersson failed to ensure that a critical survey of hake stocks in South African waters was conducted. Her failure could see between 5 000 and 9 000 people lose their jobs if the survey cannot be conducted before the end of the month.
The survey - which was supposed to have been done by the Fisheries department but has now been contracted to a private sector party - would ensure that holders of fishing rights are not shut out of lucrative foreign markets.
The SAS Africana, the state vessel which was meant to be used for the survey, is currently undergoing repairs which could last several months. This leaves the private sector in the unenviable position of trying to ensure that the survey is completed in time.
Why Minister Joemat-Pettersson's department needs a bailout from the private sector after R800 million was budgeted in the manning, maintenance and operation of three vessels is a mystery. If these vessels are not operational, what happened to the R800 million that would have been spent on these vessels?
The Minister has had over a year to come up with a solution to the problem, but has nothing to show for it. Her lack of leadership and her silence on the matter is unacceptable.
She needs to break her silence and present Parliament with a workable plan to save the jobs of the thousands of people whose livelihoods are threatened. Her complacent approach can no longer be tolerated.
Pieter van Dalen, Shadow Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries