20 February 2014

South Africa: Public Comments Sought On Bioprospecting Regulations

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has invited the public and interested parties to submit comments on the draft Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit Sharing (BABS) amendment regulations.

The amended regulations were published on 17 February 2014, in Gazette No. 37331.

The draft is in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA), 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004).

These amendments were introduced in the BABS Regulations, which were published for implementation by then Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in the Government Gazette, No.30739, on 08 February 2008.

Following the regulations in 2008, the President further published for implementation the National Environmental Laws Amendment Act (NELAA), 2009 (Act No. 14 of 2009) on 27 May 2009 and the National Environmental Laws Amendment, 2013 (Act No. 14 of 2013), which incorporates amendments to Chapter 6 of NEMBA.

The noted key amendments in the draft regulations are: the differentiation between bioprospecting and biotrade activities, timeframes for the permit application process and it is further stated that the permits will be differentiated.

"It is proposed that the requirements be sector specific, in particular on the required agreements and reporting. There are also changes in terms of the issuing authority responsibilities to also provision support to the applicants.

"To make it less challenging, the procedure for Prior Informed Consent (PIC) has been simplified and there will be structured fees based on annual turnover of different regulated sectors," Minister Molewa explained.

She added that the experiences gained in the past five years since the implementation of the regulations have helped to identify a number of gaps and limiting provisions, which require a review and substantial amendment in order to achieve the objectives of the regulations.

"These include concerns often raised by stakeholders on some of the legislative provisions. These developments have resulted in an extensive stakeholder consultation process to develop draft BABS amendment regulations to close the gaps and limitations identified..." the minister said.

Written comments can be submitted to the minister either by hand, mail email or telefax transmission within 30 days of publication of the notice. Post to: The Director- General: Environmental Affairs, Attention: Acting Director: Bioprospecting and Bioeconomy, Private Bag X447, Pretoria, 0001.

Fax to 086 530 9607, and by email to BABS@environment.gov.za.

Contact persons: Lactitia Tshitwamulomoni at (012) 310 3986 or Ntambudzeni Nepfumembe at (012) 310 3065

Hand delivered to: 315 Pretorius, corner Pretorius and Lillian Ngoyi Streets, Fedsure Forum Building, 2nd floor reception, North Tower. Comments received after the closing date may not be considered.

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