In November 2020, the Minister of Fisheries published her second revised FRAP timetable having completely missed her own deadlines for the preparation of socio-economic studies and reports and the publication of draft policies by October 2020.
We stated on the record that the revised timetable is impractical and unattainable. Neither of the first two milestones set by the Minister have been achieved. This includes the appointment of service providers.
To date, no right holder or industry association have been communicated with or consulted in any manner whatsoever regarding socio-economic data, policy criteria, frameworks, possible processes and systems that would apply to any FRAP etc.
When will this government just admit that it does not have the resources and capacity to implement a fishing rights allocation process? We see the same incompetence and destruction (albeit with much more serious consequences) in the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic and now with the failed vaccine procurement. What we do see is a lot of unscientific bluster, denial and deceit.
If the Fisheries Minister would simply commit some time to the mismanagement of fisheries, meet with industry bodies and request their assistance, I am certain it will be forthcoming as right holders simply cannot continue operating on "unbankable" exemptions, unrealistic and eternally revised timetables and rumour.
This is how we foresee rescuing this rights allocation process:
1. Separate the 13 fisheries into 3 separate allocation streams with different timetables and processes so as to alleviate the financial and administrative burden on the department. Stream 1: Hake trawl, SC lobster, small pelagics, KZN prawn trawl, hake long line, tuna pole, shark demersal & squid. Stream 2: Mussels, oysters & hake handline. Stream 3: Traditional line fish & abalone. [end Jan]
(Regardless of streaming, the 13 SEIS studies and draft policies need to be prepared and finalised by not later than June 2021. This will have to include the resource splits between co-operative and individual small scale fisheries. In fact, I would abandon this fictitious and destructive policy of forcing people to hold rights via co-operatives. It must be a choice dependent on the financial model applicable for each area and what resources are available).
2. Co-develop policies. While the Minister and her staff focus extensive resources on the production of the 13 SEIS for each sector, they should request the individual fishery sectors represented by their respective industry bodies to POPULATE framework policy and process documents, including scoring criteria. The Minister must set the rules for these processes via Gazette. For example, industry bodies must show evidence of consultation with right holders; the documents must follow a template guideline and answer specific mandates. Each sector can produce these draft policies between February and end April. This will then allow the Minister just under 60 days to formally consult in terms of PAJA. [end June]
3. Possible stream processes
Stream 1 should essentially follow the 2005 on-line and independent audit and verification process. The Department can confirm the audit and verification rules with SAICA who can then issue the applicable instruction to their members. These costs are for each applicant for a Stream 1 right. The department will need to appoint an independent data management company who can provide a secure online platform for the application and data development and management needs. Again, these costs are recoverable from applicants and right holders in terms of Section 25(1) and 25(2) of the MLRA. Stream 1 could be completed by end November with appeals completed by end March at the latest.
Stream 2 fisheries are regionally located low value fisheries with harvesting areas in distinct geographies. Accordingly, applicants from only the adjacent areas should be allowed to apply otherwise you have hundreds of paper quota holders that sit with worthless and unused rights as we have currently in the each of these fisheries. These are low value fisheries and accordingly the process and requirements must be designed to cater for the specific small-scale fisher. A basic smart-phone application app can be quickly and cheaply designed. A decision maker will need to know the following:
1. Are you a new entrant or existing right holder? Depending on the answer, separate questions will require populating for new entrant applicants and existing right holders.
2. For existing right holders, you only want the following information:
2.1 Name, surname, ID, email, mobile number & physical address
2.2 The person's self-identified race & gender
2.3 Current operating / harvesting area
2.4 How much mussels / oysters / hake did the right holder harvest in 2018 / 2019 & 2020
2.5 How much income did the right holder generate from fishing in 2018 / 2019 & 2020
2.6 What fishing related assets does the right holder own (boat, trailer, car, harvesting gear etc)
2.7 What is the replacement value of these assets
2.8 How many people does the right holder employ part-time and full-time
2.9 What is the right holder's daily / weekly / monthly wage bill for staff
2.10 If granted a right again, what assistance will the right holder require from the department to ensure better catching and earning possibilities.
3. For new entrant applicants, you want to avoid asking questions that are purely aspirational as these are worthless and our courts have already looked upon these negatively. Consider the following:
3.1 Name, surname, ID, email, mobile number & physical address
3.2 The person's self-identified race & gender
3.3 Nominated operating / harvesting area
3.4 Has the applicant ever paid a fine for violating the MLRA / been convicted of an offence under the MLRA without the option of a fine
3.5 If granted a right, the applicant must explain how the right will be utilised, the fish processed and sold.
3.6 The applicant must list whether it currently owns any fishing / harvesting gear and what the current replacement value for these are.
For Stream 2 fisheries, there is no need for supporting documents at the application phase. This will ensure a rapid electronic and automated data capturing and scoring process. In addition, and importantly, applicants can apply submitting their applications in the language of their choice which can then be automatically translated back into English for the purposes of data verification. Stream 2 fisheries could be evaluated, scored, verified and decisions issued within 3 weeks.
Stream 3 fisheries are higher value zonally managed fisheries. As with Stream 2 fisheries, applicants for a Stream 3 fishing right should be required to complete an on-line smart phone-based application form, albeit with a greater emphasis on investments made in fishing gear & vessels. Substantial emphasis must also be placed on harvesting of own quotas and employment & remuneration of crew.
Each stream should comprise a dedicated team of decision-makers who are experts in the fisheries concerned, legal counsel, business process analysts, IT support, administrative support personnel and audit staff.
The FRAP process can simply not be managed by way of hard copy applications, which are prohibitively expensive to manage, secure and evaluate. And time simply does not permit for such an archaic system.