Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Farce that is Interim Relief

There have long been allegations that many of the people granted an interim relief lobster quota are not fishers but have got onto the list due to the complete mismanagement of the process by the Department of Fisheries and/or because of their connections to those responsible for compiling the list.

The allegations of cronyism and mismanagement received greater credence when the Department of Fisheries recently published for "comment" its draft interim relief list. The department confirmed that the names on the list have been verified and thus represent deserving recipients of the interim relief lobster quotas.

A cursory glance at the names on the 84 page list reveals that a number of the intended recipients are certainly not deserving or in need of interim relief. Feike has analysed the recipients of interim relief in just one small area and found that many names on the list are of people who certainly should not qualify for "interim relief". We found names of people who are -

1. taxi owners;
2. shebeen owners;
3. permanently employed as shoreskippers;
4. fishing vessel owners; and
5. members, directors and shareholders of commercial fishing companies that have long term offshore lobster, hake long line and tuna pole commercial quotas.

There are even names of people on the list who are deceased.

These substantial anomalies in just one small area must bring into question the department's entire so-called "verification" process. Indeed, had the department undertaken the most basic verification (such as cross-referencing the ID numbers of interim relief recipients with the ID numbers of shareholders and directors on its own right holder database - if they still use it), a number of these anomalies would have been picked up.

What is clear is that the interim relief process has imploded into a quota grab as the department of fisheries has itself imploded into chaos and an inability to manage any of the inshore fisheries whether its abalone, lobster or line fish. The Minister needs to urgently show leadership and regain control over this farcical process.

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