20 February 2013

South Africa: Concern About Marine Poaching


Members of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries have noted that the country's coastal and marine resources are under considerable threat and fishing resources are vulnerable to illegal, unreported and unregulated exploitation.

A departmental delegation led by newly-appointed deputy Director-General for Fisheries Ms Greta Apelgren-Narkadien, who is responsible for fisheries, has admitted that the agreement signed in March 2012 with the South African Navy to patrol the seashore, did not produce the anticipated results.

Briefing the Portfolio Committee on the status of fisheries patrols, research vessels and the re-allocation of fishing rights, the Department told the MPs that the navy could not meet the requirements of managing the fleet of merchant vessels, which operate 24/7. As a result the Fisheries, Development and Monitoring Control Unit would be unable to meet their target for the year.

This led to committee member Mr Mzwenqaba Bhanga calling for Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to appear before the Committee, to account for the crisis around an achievable recovery plan.

The Committee also learned "with disappointment" that since the Memorandum of Understanding between the two Departments (Navy and Agriculture) was signed last year, the navy had managed to conduct only six patrols, of which two were cut short due to technical problems. The remainder of the patrols were also cut short due to a problems ranging from lack of capacity, expertise and too few qualified technicians.

The deployment of the navy followed the controversial awarding of an R800m contract to Sekunjalo Investments Ltd to man and maintain state-owned marine patrol vessels.

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