It is now certain that due to our bungling and incompetent Minister and her fisheries department, South Africa will lose all fisheries patrol and research vessel capabilities this weekend. Another tragic and historic milestone achieved by our government.
Come Sunday morning, April 1 2012, South Africa will awake to the first time in history since the regulation of fisheries began in the last century, where we will not have any fisheries patrol and research vessel deployment capabilities. And this despite us having some of the most advanced research and patrol vessels in the world.
It is almost incomprehensible that a Minister can effectively collapse a country's entire fisheries management regime and not be held to account for such incompetence and blundering. Will she not be fired?
It is now certain that with the termination of the hull and indemnity insurances over the vessels and the handing back of the SAMSA safety certificates, South Africa's oceans are now officially open to poaching just as is the case with Somali waters. We therefore could be considered a failed state as we are now the only state on the planet to share Somalia's "open water" regime.
Further, the critically important demersal research cruise which is scheduled for next week may not be able to occur. This research cruise assesses the state of our hake, horse mackerel and other demersal stocks, allowing scientists to advise the minister to set viable catch limits for the 2013 season in sectors that land fish worth some R3.5 billion and employ some 12,000 people.
It is unlikely that our 8 fishery patrol and research vessels will be capable of setting to sea within the next 1 month. The world's fishing pirates will surely be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospects of raping our oceans thanks to our Minister and her dysfunctional department.
And even if we manage to remove the vessels from the merchant shipping registry and onto the naval registry, there has not been any formal handover of skills and knowledge from the SMIT Marine crew to anyone else. And as we now know, a ship is not a tractor where one driver can simply hand over the keys to another.