25 May 2018

East Africa: Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries On Vessel Chartering At Indian Ocean Tuna Commission Meeting

press release

South African Delegation champions a newly adopted resolution on Vessel Chartering at the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, 21-25 May 2018

South African Delegation champions a newly adopted resolution on Vessel Chartering at the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, 21-25 May 2018

Cape Town, Friday, 25 May 2018: The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) is responsible for the management of tuna and tuna like-species in the Indian Ocean. The IOTC is currently holding its 22nd annual Session in Bangkok, Thailand. South Africa was, for a very long time, a Non-Cooperating Contracting Party member of the IOTC until the 3rd of September 2015 when the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa approved its accession to the IOTC, thus becoming a Cooperating Contracting Party member of the IOTC.

South Africa, a Member State of the IOTC is currently attending and participating at the 22nd Session of the Commission (S22), and this being only the third time that South Africa participates as a full member. Suffice to say, South Africa is quickly making a positive mark with respect to promoting the recognition of the rights and interests of Developing Coastal States (DCS) and is playing a pivotal role in leading, along with other DCS and Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) such as the Maldives, and other members of the group of like-minded coastal States in the Indian Ocean, known as the G16. South Africa is regarded as a leading light and a role model for other developing nations in the Indian Ocean.

South Africa drafted and tabled a proposal, "On Vessel Chartering in the IOTC Area of Competence" during the S22 meeting of the IOTC. The proposal was drafted on the basis that neither the collection of IOTC Conservation and Management Measures, nor the Basic Texts of the Commission (IOTC Agreement/Rules of Procedure), provided guidance on the management of "Vessel Chartering" within the IOTC Area of Competence. The proposal aimed to provide clear guidelines on the management of "Vessel Chartering", as well as the attribution of catch and observer coverage. Currently, IOTC attributes all the catch and observer data accrued from "Vessel Chartering" to the flag State of the chartered foreign fishing vessel. Consequently, this practice, under the current conditions, denies the coastal States, particularly, the DCS, their rights to have a historical catch data in the IOTC Area of Competence. Noting that the IOTC is currently developing a system of allocation of fishing rights in the IOTC Area of Competence and historical catch data is one of the critical elements to be considered for allocation of fishing rights, the proposal on vessel chartering had huge implications not only for South Africa but for other Indian Ocean coastal States and to some degree, the Distant Fishing Water Nations operating in the Indian Ocean. There was so much depended on this proposal. After much lobbying for co-sponsors and supporters for the proposal as well as some tough negotiations, involving France, on behalf of its Territories in the Indian Ocean, and the European Union, the Commission adopted the Resolution on Vessel Chartering in the IOTC Area of Competence.

The success of the strong, albeit very small South Africa Delegation under the outstanding leadership of Ms Siphokazi Ndudane, the Deputy Director-General of the Branch: Fisheries Management of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, echoes the achievement of the past two years, where South Africa's tuna allocations at the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has significantly increased. Thereby, creating the much needed permanent job employment in the South African fishing industry.

South Africa is also a co-sponsor and strong advocate of a proposal to develop a system of allocation for IOTC species. The proposal aims to ensure that a fair, equitable, and transparent system of allocation of fishing opportunities is developed, while taking into account the sovereign rights of IOTC coastal States, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The dual aim is to support the long-term sustainability of IOTC species, while ensuring the special requirements of IOTC Developing Coastal States, and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), are accommodated including food security and development aspirations, thereby promoting opportunities for economic development and development aspirations. While the Commission was unable to agree on the latter proposal at this Session, South Africa and the other co-sponsors expressed their willingness to undertake further consultations and refinement of the proposal intersessionally, with the intention of resubmitting the proposal at the Commission meeting in 2019 for adoption.

Issued by: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

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