South Africa: Parliament Extends Timeframes for Fishing Rights in Twelve Commercial Fishing Sectors

press release

Cabinet extends timeframes for dealing with the fishing rights allocation process (Frap) in 12 commercials fishing sectors expiring in December 2020

Cabinet took a decision on Wednesday, 4 September 2019, to extend the timeframes for dealing with the fishing rights in twelve commercial fishing sectors which will expire on 31 December 2020.

The twelve sectors that are due for allocation in terms of Section 18 of the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998 are: KZN Prawn Trawl; Demersal Shark; Tune-Pole Line; Hake Handline; Line Fish; White Mussels; Oysters; Squid; Small Pelagics (Pilchard and Anchovy); Hake Deepsea Trawl; Hake Longline; and South Coast Rock Lobster.

Cabinet noted that any fishing rights allocation process is highly contentious and that a number of legal and administrative procedures must be followed in order to ensure that a proper, transparent and legally defensible process is followed. Cabinet's approval for an extension of the timeframes will be in the interest of all South Africans, including both the current right holders and aspirant applicants.

The FRAP process will therefore be extended until 31 December 2021. During this time, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) will conduct socio-economic impact analysis studies on the General Policy on the Allocation of Commercial Fishing Rights, as well as the 12 Sector-specific polices.

The department will also be appointing a number of service providers to manage and observe the rights allocation process; to develop and manage the database; to assist with adjudications, and to conduct forensic investigations and audits on the information provided by applicants. To this end, the department will shortly be convening a Supplier Information Workshop to outline the specific requirements and outcomes of the various processes that will be put out to tender.

The department also intends to ensure that the awarding of all the tenders as well as the actual decision-making during the allocation process are open to public scrutiny. The department will also use the additional time to ensure that the decision making process is supported by credible scientific and socio-economic information on all the fishing sectors due for reallocation.

During the FRAP process the department will also be embarking upon an extensive public consultation process on the proposed policies, application forms and amended fees that will be payable. The consultation process will aim to allow debate and discussion on the controversial aspects of a rights allocation process, such as the criteria used to determine transformation targets; balancing criteria; minimising fronting and paper quota holders; quantum methodology; and determinations of economically viable allocations.

The department will furthermore be appointing suitably qualified and credible members to the Consultative Advisory Forum (CAF) as well as to the Appeals Advisory Panel(s) to advise the Minister on appeals lodged.

"It is important to re-state today the decision to review the FRAP 2020 process which will see the re-issuing of licenses for 12 of the 22 fisheries. This decision has been taken following consultation with the sector and is aimed at ensuring we follow all regulatory and legislative requirements. It is essential that the process is seen to be fair, open and transparent. It must promote the transformation of the sector, and create sustainable livelihoods for the many coastal communities who have no other means of support," said Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy.

The department is committed to using the extended timeframes to deliver a credible and transparent Fishing Rights Allocation Process and to reduce the number of appeals and legal reviews.

In a community meeting held with fishers from West Coast fishing communities that took place in Lambert's Bay on Saturday, 7 September 2019, Minister Creecy also announced that the department will conclude the allocation of fishing rights for Small-scale Co-operatives in Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape during September and October, while the allocations in the Western Cape will be concluded at the beginning of the fishing season. This includes announcements on the "basket of species" to be made available to the registered Small-scale cooperatives in the different coastal regions.

She further stated that the Western Cape lists, per area, will be independently evaluated and audited in order to provide assurance that the lists are credible and that those that meet the criteria have been included, while those who are not bona fide fishers have not erroneously made it onto the final lists.

Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries

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