On 1 March 2011, in an article in the Cape Times titled "LIGHTS GO OUT FOR FISHING HARBOURS", the department of fisheries (DAFF) claims to not be responsible for, inter alia the navigational lights at our various proclaimed fishing harbours. It tries to blame Transnet.
What DAFF's denial of responsibility does indeed confirm is that this is a department that clearly does not have the professionals skill available to understand what its legal mandate is, let alone actually run fisheries management. Let us be clear about this. DAFF is responsible for the maintenance and proper management of our fishing harbours. Not Transnet; not Public Works.
In terms of section 27 of the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998, the Minister of Fisheries is authorised to declare harbours as "proclaimed fishing harbours". The harbours mentioned in the Cape Times article are all proclaimed fishing harbours. Once a harbour is proclaimed to be a fishing harbour, the Minister is further entitled to determine a range of fees for the use of the harbour facilities. The Minister is then also obliged to maintain these harbours and to allocate a budget for the management and maintenance of the fishing harbours. Indeed, each year the Minister happily increases the harbour fees regulating a range of uses and facilities such as the use of equipment, moorings etc. The current fees gazette was promulgated on 10 September 2010. For the department of fisheries to now claim that it is not responsible for maintenance and management of the fishing harbours is deceptive and rather worrying.
It is increasingly apparent that DAFF is at sea and now does not even know what it is responsible for managing and maintaining. (We of course can not forget that months after she became the Minister of Fisheries, the Minister told Parliament's portfolio committee on fisheries that she was not responsible for quota allocations!) Do they really know who is in charge of what and what their respective roles and responsibilities are or are they just salary collectors?
How does DAFF explain pocketing the thousands of rands in fees we pay in terms of the annual Harbour Fees Gazette and which are paid directly into the Marine Living Resources Fund? What are they doing with these monies that ought to be applied to harbour management and maintenance? Does this perhaps explain the decaying state of our fishing harbours such as Hout Bay and why there are an increasing number of sunken vessels that are simply being left unsalvaged making Hout Bay resemble something like Luanda's fishing port?