7 January 2014

South Africa: Fishing Rights Should Be Restored Until Crisis Is Resolved

press release

The DA will today request that the fishing rights of previous holders of permits be restored until the current crisis is resolved.

The apparent bungling of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries' Fishing Rights Allocation process has left thousands of previous rights holders unemployed. This will have a disastrous impact on already impoverished communities.

As it stands, of the 3 490 applications, only about 600 led to rights being granted in seven different sectors. Furthermore, only 215 applications for traditional line fishing were successful out of the 1 556 applications. From the 400 established traditional line fishing licenses, only 105 previous right holders were awarded fishing rights while 100 new entrants were also awarded rights.

The rest were denied without explanation.

The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joematt-Petterssons' refusal to provide reasons for her Department's decision to refuse certain permits is completely unacceptable and is in breach of her Department's own fishing allocation policies.

In terms of these policies, all applicants are entitled to receive - whether successful or not:

A letter addressed to the applicant, informing him/her of the actual reasons for the decision;

A copy the score sheet for a particular application and all other evaluation records used to score the application;

Copies of the score sheets and evaluation sheets for every other applicant in that fishery - for both, the right holder and new entrant applicants;

The General Published Reasons; and

Complete lists of successful applicants, together with the names and registration numbers of their nominated fishing vessels and crew allocations.

The DA has already submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application requesting data and score sheets that have been denied to the applicants showing their scores and ranking in the adjudication process.

We have also approached Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela requesting that she investigate the lawfulness of the allocation process. Furthermore, we have also called upon the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Lulu Johnson, to hold an emergency meeting to allow Parliament to probe this crisis.

Until all investigations are complete, and the process conducted in terms of policy requirements, all previous rights holders should to be allowed to use their old permits which would include the permits which have been reserved for cooperatives.

Fishing communities should not have to suffer due to the on-going ineptitude of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Pieter van Dalen, Shadow Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

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