On 10 March 2010 in an attempt to justify the preposterous proposed increases to commercial and recreational fish levies, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Buyelwa Sonjica, stated that -
" there would be no effect on the competitiveness of the commercial sector, as fees were in line with inflation and were lower than fees in neighbouring countries."
Unfortunately the journalist that reported this statement did not interrogate it any further. Firstly the proposed increases are not in line with inflation unless inflation in South Africa is running between 70% and 500%. Secondly, the Minister's advisers clearly do not understand how "competitiveness" works. By increasing a regulatory fee by 70% (for hake for example) will result in right holders, processors and marketers increasing their fees to cover this massive cost input. The Minister for example clearly does not appreciate that for example, South African hake in Europe has to compete with fish that can be bought for less than 3 Euro, which is about what it costs to ship a kilogram of South African hake to the EU. Minister, your proposed ill-informed and research devoid proposals will annihilate competitiveness in this extremely globally competitive environment. The result will of course lead to job losses in the fishing sector.
Thirdly, our levies do not compare with any "neighbouring country" - in any case the only "neighbouring country" that charges levies for fish landed is Namibia as Mozambique does not charge levies as we do and neither do they have sufficiently comparable commercial fish. So lets see what Namibia charges for comparable fish on a "per ton" basis (compared with our Minister's proposals) - not to mention that Namibian fish exports to the EU enjoy a further 15% saving in terms of the Cotonou Agreement:
Hake: N$:330 (R350)
Pilchard: N$62.5 (R58)
West coast lobster: N$312 (R4679)
Squid: N$2.5 (R427)
Sole: (N$62.5) (R345)
Kingklip: (N$62.5) (R345)
Horse Mackerel: (N$25) (R19)
Monkfish: (N$62.5) (R230)
Tuna (pole method): (N$62.5) (R142)
What of course is of interest is where does the Minister get her information from?