Wednesday, March 14, 2012

DA statement on Fisheries Minister's About-Turn

This statement was issued today by the Democratic Alliance (

DA welcomes Minister’s about-turn on Fisheries move to Pretoria

Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has done an about-turn on the relocation of the Fisheries branch of her Department from the coast to Pretoria.

The Minister has assured Parliament’s fisheries committee that there will be no total move of the Marine Coastal Management unit of her Department from the Western Cape to Pretoria.

This follows pressure from the Democratic Alliance (DA) for the Minister to reverse the nonsensical decision to move coastal management inland.

Only a portion of staff comprising Human Resources and Legal Services will be located in Pretoria, with the majority of the operation remaining on the coast where it needs to be in order to manage South African marine resources.

While the Minister’s about-turn is welcome, the need still exists for some specialised legal services to remain at the current premises in the Western Cape.

The coastal management unit has a specific mandate to ascertain fish stocks. The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for a given year, which is used to allocate fishing quotas, is derived from knowledge of these fish stocks. This task should continue to be operated from the Western Cape premises, as 80% of South Africa’s commercial fishing takes place in the Western Cape. The process of applying for fishing quotas requires specialised legal services.

People need to be close to where fishing is taking place in order to properly deal with these matters. We ask that the Minister handles any move that has a bearing on this aspect of the operation with caution and in consultation with the affected parties.

South Africa’s fish stock is of strategic economic value to the country as well as to the livelihoods of many small-scale fishermen.

While it is good that sense seems to be prevailing in the Fisheries Ministry, the DA will continue to monitor any changes to the operations of the coastal management unit to ensure that responsible decisions are made.

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