Mr Langa Zita has been appointed as the Director-General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) according to a press statement issued by the Minister of DAFF on 6 September 2010. Mr Zita is a former chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee responsible for fisheries oversight and should therefore provide the critical stewardship that the fisheries branch requires during this difficult period.
Articles on this blog have repeated the number of challenges facing the commercial (both large-scale and small-scale artisinal commercial fisheries). Mr Zita will undoubtedly be called upon to set out a suitable policy tone to support the more than 40,000 jobs supported by the fisheries sector and the more than R12 billion in investments in infrastructure. Mr Zita's role will be particularly important in the immediate future as the fisheries branch continues to limp along without any professional fisheries managers in senior management roles.
As an aside, the Minister mentioned that she was off to China to discuss certain agricultural trade issues. We do note that there is no mention of including any fisheries management and trade issues on the agenda. For example, since her counterpart in Environmental Affairs unilaterally decided to remove abalone from CITES, the Minister could have raised the issue of the 4,000 tons of illegal abalone that was imported into Hong Kong last year worth R4 billion and what mechanisms the two countries could implement to reduce the illicit imports. This would have a direct financial benefit for South Africa's coastal abalone communities such as Hawston. Another issue that could be discussed is the expansion of SA access to Chinese oyster, finfish, lobster and (farmed) abalone markets. South Africa could do with directing some of its seafood exports to China while Europe tries to recover. Then there is also issue of attracting Chinese investments in abalone ranching opportunities in the Minister's home province, the Northern Cape.
Maybe for the next trip? Hopefully its soon.