Friday, April 27, 2012

Small Scale Fishing Policy Contradicted by NDP

The Draft Small Scale Fishing Policy is presently before Cabinet. It is expected that the Presidency would object to the draft policy as it is contradictory to the findings and objectives of the National Development Plan published by Minister in the Presidency, Trevor Manuel.

The National Development Plan (NDP) is an overarching national policy aimed at achieving substantial developmental objectives for the country by 2030. The NDP was prepared by the National Planning Commission, which is chaired by Trevor Manuel and whose commissioners include Cyril Ramaphosa, Tasneem Essop, Karl von Holdt, Bobby Godsell to name a few.

The NDP addresses the development role that can be played by South Africa's fishing industry in contributing to the attainment of the NDP's Vision 2030. The NDP can be said to be based on two defining objectives - the substantial reduction of poverty and current levels of gross inequality by 2030 by creating a "virtuous cycle of growth and development".

With these objectives and methodology in mind, the NDP states the following about the South African fishing industry and how it can contribute to Vision 2030 (Chapter 6 of the NDP).

  • The NDP identifies fisheries as an economic sector with growth potential, particularly small enterprise development. 
  • The NDP recognises that small-scale / artisinal fishers operate low cost operations but fish high value fish stocks. (It is important to note that the small-scale fishing policy is premised on the myth that South African law does not recognise small-scale fishers. Small scale fishers are explicitly recognised as a separate and defined category of fishers in terms of South Africa's general fisheries policy of 2005 and the various small-scale sector specific fishing policies of 2005. And before that, small scale or artisinal fishers were recognised in terms of the 2001 Fishing Policy).
  • Large scale industrial fisheries employ more than 27 000 people (which accords with Feike's own research) and that these sectors offer employment conditions that are better than most other economic sectors.  
  • The NDP opposes the accommodation of new entrants or additional quota holders as this will only increase the threat to sustainability of our fish stocks. Again, this is contradicted by the small scale fishing policy and recent statements by DAFF that more people need to be accommodated in fishing sectors.
  • The NDP unequivocally favours the allocation of LESS fishing rights of greater value rather than more fishing rights of lesser value. 
  • Importantly, the NDP emphasises that quotas cannot be allocated in away that threatens compliance and sustainability. And yet the the Department insists on allocating the interim relief lobster quotas which have proved to be an illegal fishing racket which the department has no control over. 
  • The NDP confirms that the fishing sector is transformed and black empowered. 
  • The NDP confirms that small-scale fishing cannot be viewed as the solution to unemployment and poverty; rather the solution is to support large scale industrial fishing as these sectors offer better salaries and conditions of employment.
  • Critically, the NDP states that by allocating more small-scale fishing rights (as opposed to focussing on industrial fisheries development) will only cut jobs.
  • Finally, the NDP states that unrealistic expectations have been created by promising communities fishing rights. 
It is therefore inexplicable that the small scale fishing policy continues to exist! It is even more inexplicable that we have a department and a Minister that continue to make statements about fisheries that are directly contradicted by the NDP: Vision 2030 and its findings and analyses. How is it possible that DAFF and its Minister are unaware of this national overarching plan produced by the Presidency of the Republic? It was clear from Sue Middleton's presentation to the Portfolio Committee on 24 April 2012, that she was completely unaware of the NDP and its analyses. 

If government departments such as fisheries has already elected to ignore the NDP, it certainly does not bode well that this rather grand Vision 2030 will ever be more than a fancy document on a nice website. 

Special Assignment: The Small Scale Fishing Policy

Special Assignment's analysis of the draft small scale fishing policy showed how the small scale fishing policy will result in a poverty trap for small scale fishers. Perhaps the clearest case against the policy is the co-operative pilot project in Doring Bay which has proved to be an absolute failure but DAFF and its Minister refuse to even to acknowledge the failure of their own pilot project.

One must ask why in the face of the Doring Bay failure, and the historic and documented failures of co-operatives such as SACFC (which involved Andy Johnson - a proponent of the current small-scale fishing policy) and Harbour Lights of Kalk Bay, does the fisheries department and its Minister insist on implementing a failed system? Co-operative fishing structures had even proved to be a failure under the NATs. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Synopsis for the "The Catch" on Special Assignment, 26 April 2012 (21:10, SA Time): 

Philip Sothomela (67) has known no life other than the sea. But in 2004 he suffered a stroke that left him unable to perform even the most basic of bodily Today, his wife Makhoti devotes all her time to caring for him. She too was a fisher but his ill-health and their financial problems have prevented her from going back to the sea. Like thousands of other small-scale and subsistence fishers she is pinning her hopes on a new fishing policy that will provide her with the greater access to the sector and secure the future, not only for her desperately ill husband but for her children and grandchildren as well.

Almost twenty years since the advent of democracy, life for the traditional fishing communities has become harder. Competition for limited stocks has escalated, poaching and overfishing are on the rise and DAFF's monitoring capacity has been severely compromised due to corruption and inefficiency. If adequate action is not taken to address this, the consequences for both our marine resources and traditional fishing communities could be irreversible.

But will the small-scale fisheries policy provide a safety net for struggling fishing communities along the coast? Or will it be the bait to catch traditional fishing communities in a greater poverty trap, hook, line and sinker?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Middleton Confirms SLA Was Signed

Sue Middleton confirmed to the fisheries portfolio committee yesterday that she had personally signed the service level agreement with the Navy on 13 April 2012.

Why they insist on such a destructive public relationship management strategy is beyond comprehension. Why not make the SLA immediately available to the public or why not issue a press statement confirming the signing of such an important document, explaining its implementation, costs and who will be responsible for what?

Middleton further confirmed that the SAS Africana, which was supposed to have sailed on 19 April, was still in port and may sail today (ie 25 April). The Africana would conduct back-to-back demersal and pelagic research cruises.

Alarmingly, Middleton confirmed that the rest of the fleet will take another 2 months at least to get out to sea - which in fact means at least 6 months in the real world. Talk about an open invitation to the world's pirates to plunder our seas!

Well done DAFF and Minister Joemat-Pettersson for looking after the poachers again!

Minister now Abandons her "Committee of Inquiry"

During the course of a fisheries portfolio committee hearing yesterday, Sue Middleton - acting DDG of  fisheries - confirmed that the Minister will now not be holding her famed "committee of inquiry" she hastily announced on 21 March 2012. 

When the Minister announced the "committee of inquiry" which was supposed to unearth widespread tender corruption and maladministration in the fisheries branch, we all hailed it a red herring;  a desperate attempt to detract from her Sekunjalo tender woes.

Not only are we all now proved correct but the Minister has kept true to her record of pointless rhetoric and back-peddling.  It can be reliably assumed that the Minister quickly realised that any such committee of inquiry into tender allocations would unearth how rotten her department really is. Remember the illegal award of the tender to Anix Consulting, for example, and what about the ANC's involvement in the illegal "transfer" of a lobster quota from 180 shareholders of Grey Cottages Investments to one Mary-Anne Brown (aka Marianne Brown; Muriel Davids)? See and see 

Middleton however advised that the Minister has a new goalpost. The Minister has apparently approached the President to set up a commission of enquiry - note COMMISSION - which will be chaired by a retired judge who will now investigate fishing quota allocations! 

This Minister is truly proving that she is not only at a complete loss as to how to manage fisheries, she is appallingly dishonest. Had the DA not demanded clarity on the status of the March 21 Committee of Inquiry, we may never had known that the Minister was now pursuing another witch-hunt. And we point out again, all this mucking around a mere year before long term quotas need to be re-allocated in a number of fisheries! 

Finally, Middleton confirmed that the DG, Langa Zita had apparently laid criminal charges against SMIT PENTOW (she was not clear about this - our assumption) but could not provide a case number or where the charges were laid. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

DEA Decision in WSCD Case Set Aside

The Western Cape High Court this morning reviewed and set aside the decision of the Minister of Environmental Affairs to refuse to allocate a WSCD permit to Shark Adventures that operates out of Gordons Bay.

The decision is significant as Shark Adventures not only sought to review the decision to refuse it a permit, but also sought to review the authority of the Minister to decide the appeal as it was argued that the Minister of DEA is not permitted under the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998, to regulate the white shark cage diving sector. It was argued that the Fisheries Minister is actually the correct repository of authority over the shark cage diving sector.

The full reasons of the court will be made available in due course. Feike advised Shark Adventures on its appeal and its litigation. Shark Adventures was represented by Shaun Hangone of Von Lieres Cooper Barlow Hangone Attorneys and Advocate Darryl Cooke of the Cape Bar.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The SAS Africana to Sail on 19 April

Feike understands that the Africana research vessel (now the SAS Africana as it is a naval vessel) will sail on 19 April 2012 to commence the demersal research cruise.

It remains baffling why the Fisheries Minister refuses to communicate openly about the progress being made in getting our patrol and research vessels fully operational once again.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vessels Remain Port-Bound

Despite the Fisheries Minister's repeated assurances that the patrol and research vessels will be operational during April, the vessels remain port bound in Simonstown harbour.

And Feike has been advised that these vessels will not be able to leave port for at least the next 6 months which will expose South African waters to further rampant and unchecked illegal fishing for an extremely extensive period. In addition, the pelagic research cruise will certainly be cancelled which will mean that the TAC for the second half of the 2012 anchovy fishery will not be capable of being determined based on actual science.

Even though the Minister and her advisers will undoubtedly deny it, but we are officially chin-deep in a governance crisis. Fisheries management in this country, which has traditionally been underpinned by internationally recognised fisheries science, has never been so seriously compromised until Joemat-Pettersson insisted on assuming the fisheries throne in Cabinet.

Patrol vessels in Simonstown Harbour, 17 April 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

So where is that SLA, Minister?

So, where is that Service Level Agreement we were all promised 16 days ago by the Fisheries Minister? Remember, we were told that the SLA would be signed WITHIN 14 days of the signature of the MOU that was signed in March (presumably the 30th) between the Fisheries and Defence Ministers?

No SLA means our fisheries patrol and research vessels remain stranded, looking pretty in the Autumn sun in Simonstown Harbour.

Fisheries Minister's Rhetoric

The Business Day today reports that the Minister holds the view that she can withdraw the rights of fishing companies that have changed their "BEE" credentials as this is contrary to the conditions of granting their fishing rights.

Unfortunately, our Minister appears to once again not be familiar with the provisions of the Marine Living Resources Act and nature of the fishing rights allocated.

Firstly, the Minister does not have the legal authority to make fishing rights subject to "BEE" credentials in terms of section 18. Secondly, none of the fishing rights allocated are subject to such conditions or any condition related to "BEE", save for specific conservation and management measures as provided for under section 18(7) of the MLRA.

Further, criticism of the transfer policy and its limited focus is not anti-transformation. As this BLOG has made clear and as it is apparent from actual case studies in various sectors such as hake long line and west coast rock lobster, enforcement of the transfer policy is in fact undermining black economic empowerment.

Unfortunately, our Minister and her advisers choose to remain blissfully ignorant of the economic and social realities of the commercial fishing industry by simply never engaging with industry whether regularly (or at all) or honestly for that matter.

Masters Thesis on Abalone Poaching

Gregg Brill of Stellenbosch University has published his findings which form part of his masters thesis, titled "The tip of the iceberg: Spatio-temporal patterns of marine resource confiscations in the Table Mountain National Park", on abalone poaching trends in the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area (TMNPA MPA).

His findings show a significant increase in abalone poaching trends in the TMNP MPA over the period 2000 to 2009 and confirmed that only about 10% of all abalone poached is actually confiscated. Further, Brill confirms that TMNP MPA accounts for only 1,2% of all abalone poaching. Brill found that over the period 2000 to 2009, 88,000 abalone were confiscated by TMNP officials (noting that the the MPA was established only in June 2004) and that some 70% of this occurred in the last 5 years alone. This confirmed an increase in poaching trends.

However, if one extrapolates Brill's figures to a national level and accepting Brill's findings that no more than 10% of abalone poached is confiscated, an average of 7,5 million individual abalone are poached annually. This would equate to approximately at least 2,400 tons of abalone poached annually.

Gregg Brill's thesis is available on the internet by searching "Gregg Brill, abalone, thesis".

Friday, April 13, 2012

Maritime Matters Weekly Update

Keep up to date with maritime news by checking out the Maritime Matters blog at

2012 Defence Review: Our Fisheries Vessels are in Trouble

It looks like we were wrong to punt the SA Navy as being a suitable alternative to the commercial outsourcing of the management and maintenance of our vessels.

The 2012 Defence Review draft report, which was handed to Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu, in Pretoria yesterday states that the South African defence force is not capable of fulfilling its role in terms of its current capabilities.

It must therefore follow that if the Navy cannot even carry out its limited present role, how will it be able to also manage and maintain our state of the art fishery patrol and research vessels and patrol our vast sea space?

And in a related matter, Sue Middleton, the Acting DDG of the Fisheries Branch stated in Port Elizabeth on 11 April that she believed that while the Navy could enhance the management of the patrol vessels, it was less clear as to whether the Navy could play a meaningful in running the research vessels.

So who is going to maintain and operate our research vessels? We are told that the Navy was doing this from 1 April! But it is clear that they actually don't have a clue.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cape Times Cartoon on Joemat-Pettersson

The Minister of Fisheries has become a laughing stock; the butt of many jokes and the subject of ridicule. Her own staff now refer to her as Minister Looney Tunes and that they work for DAFFy duck.

This is the second cartoon published by the Cape Times in less than 3 weeks lampooning the Fisheries Minister, Tina Joemant-Pettersson.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Implementation Agreement Deadline for Vessels Nears

In terms of the MOU concluded on between the Ministers of Fisheries and Defence in late March, they must have a Service Level Agreement in place within 14 days of the signature of the MOU. See further

Although we have not had sight of the signed MOU, we can assume that it was signed at very last minute on 31 March 2012. This means the SLA must be in place by no later than Monday 16 April 2012.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


The Business Report this morning carries the following story on its Cover Page.

South Africa’s “Big Five” fishing firms have come under fire from Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who told a closed meeting of fisheries division staff in Cape Town that she would take away their fishing rights when they came up for review next year.

She told staff in the department last week that they should not take notes or record her remarks, but news of her briefing leaked to Feike chief executive Shaheen Moolla, a former adviser to previous ministers.

Read the full story at

DAFF Fails to Pitch at its own Compliance Media Event!

The Daily Dispatch reports that officials from the Department of Fisheries failed to pitch at a media event arranged by the Department itself! And it then left its embarrassed fishery control officers without any explanations as to the reasons for the no-show. This failure by the department epitomizes the absolute dysfunction, chaos and maladministration that has come to define this department. And we expect them to actually protect and manage our fish stocks. They are not able to even manage their own diaries!

This is the actual report from the Daily Dispatch.

A gazebo is pitched near EL’s Eastern Beach, venue of what was supposed to be the launch of an anti-poaching awareness campaign by the national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in partnership with Buffalo City Metro marine services.

What was meant to be the launch of a national anti-poaching awareness campaign took a bizarre turn in East London yesterday.

None of the officials – from either the national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries or Buffalo City Metro’s marine services – pitched for a press conference in a small gazebo tent at Eastern Beach. After an hour-and-a-half, a few distressed fishery control officers had to tell the media that everything they said was “off the record” because they didn’t have the authority to speak to them .

In the media invitation, the launch – which was meant to take place at the East London Aquarium – the objectives of the campaign were said to include informing and educating members of the public about the importance of marine resources, and its protection and sustainability for future generations. The event was also meant to emphasise the illegal harvesting of abalone as the biggest threat to the country’s marine resources.
“This campaign, with the theme ‘Working Together To Protect Our Marine Resources’, also seeks to illustrate the important role communities play in the protection of these resources,” the department said in a statement.

The department aimed to teach communities about the different ways in which they can work with law-enforcement agencies to bring an end to illegal poaching of marine resources, such as purchasing fish products only from dealers who are authorised to sell them and insist on a receipt, and reporting suspicious activities to the law-enforcement agencies.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Minister Wants to Nationalise Fishing Rights of Big 5 Companies

The Minister of Fisheries addressed her staff at the department of fisheries yesterday for the first since being appointed in June 2009.

And she reportedly did not impress. She firstly instructed staff to not record her speech or make notes while she spoke!

She then proceeded to state that she intends taking away the fishing quotas of the "big 5" fishing companies and will instead give these quotas to communities (whoever they may be)! It will be fascinating of course to see how "nationalisation" of these quotas will benefit "communities" or how they will take over the businesses of quota holders such as Oceana, Irvin & Johnson, Sea Harvest, FoodCorp and Viking and how they will put the billions of rands in assets owned by these companies to use. And here we thought "nationalisation" is not a policy of this government.

And the Minister confirmed that she has been communicating with the department of trade and industry to make funding available for "communities" (there's that elusive concept again) to buy fishing vessels. The Minister needs to be informed that South Africa (like every other fishing nation on the planet) certainly does not require more vessels but we need LESS vessels! It is of course nonsensical to even contemplate adding more fishing vessels to fishery sectors when quota sizes and operational costs simply cannot economically or biologically sustain more fishing effort. But when market economics is a rather irrelevant concept to our Mercedes Benz communists in government spending our tax Rands, then dishing out more fishing vessels to the "communities" makes complete sense.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

SCA Judgements Will Strangle Empowerment

The recent judgements by the Supreme Court of Appeal in the Oceana and Foodcorp matters will undoubtedly result in the regression of black economic empowerment in the commercial fishery sectors.

By confirming the validity of a policy that states that fishing rights can only be transferred to black buyers, the policy (and rulings) essentially hand to black quota holders a rope with which to hang themselves.

The judgements explicitly recognises that the fishing industry is one of the most transformed economic sectors in the country having achieved more than 60% black control through two successive and highly successful quota allocation processes in 2001 and 2005.

However, the court fails to recognise that economic and market realities today, coupled with substantially reduced fishing quotas in the pilchard and hake fisheries (for example) have forced many of the smaller quota holders, which are predominantly black owned, into serious financial distress. There are countless fishing companies along our coast that are 100% black owned and in serious financial trouble with substantial debts owed to SARS and to third party creditors as a result of poor governance and a fishing economy that has seriously contracted since the heady days of 2004, 2005 and 2006.

The test will be for the department to decide whether to implement an outdated and backward looking policy that focusses solely on race to the exclusion of all economic and broader social factors or adopt an approach to quota transfers that seeks to grow the commercial value of the fisheries sector by encouraging consolidation (which is also a stated policy objective in terms of the 2005 General Fishing Policy of SA) and job creation as opposed to creating a false sense of "transformation" defined by economic marginalisation, poverty and unemployment.

Monday, April 2, 2012

DA Statement on Fisheries Vessels

The Democratic Alliance issued this statement today on the transfer of the fisheries patrol and research vessels to the SA Navy.

For the first time since regulation of the fishing industry was instituted in 1940, South Africa’s marine resources will be left completely unpatrolled for at least two weeks.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has issued numerous warnings about this situation, to no avail. Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson may as well have published an advert announcing a free two-week poaching season.

In November last year, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries prematurely announced the awarding of an R800 million tender to politically connected firm Sekunjalo Consortium. The tender was withdrawn on the back of a DA exposé that the bid adjudication process was punctuated by irregularity. In the meanwhile, the previous contract holders, Smit Amandla Marine, had their contract extended to the end of March.

The Department should have used the time to ensure that a plan was in place to patrol our marine resources from the beginning of April. Experts have indicated that a sound handover process would take at least three months.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) in my possession, entered into by the Ministers of Fisheries and Defence, indicates that the Navy will now ‘perform the shipping management functions of the Fisheries Department’s fleet of vessels with effect from 1st April 2012 …’ The MOU will remain in place for 12 months, contingent on the signing of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) two weeks from now. South African waters will remain unprotected for the duration of that time. No research cruises will be conducted either.

But the transition from merchant to navy ships is not as simple as handing over the keys to a tractor. There are a number of critical questions about the transition process that remain unanswered.

Firstly, when will the eight state-owned merchant vessels actually be registered as naval vessels and removed from the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) register of vessels?

Secondly, while we welcome the idea of the navy operating and maintaining the patrol vessels, we believe that research and law enforcement pertaining to marine resources must remain essentially civilian. Clarity must therefore be provided on how fishery control officers and researchers will be permitted to function on board naval vessels.

Thirdly, what plans are in place to compensate for the lack of a proper handover? Data sets in fisheries research must be meticulously managed. At this stage it is not at all clear whether plans have been made to ensure the continuation of critical research functions as a going concern. If these functions are neglected, the total allowable catch, upon which fishing quotas are based, will not be determined in time for the allocation of the quotas.

I will be submitting parliamentary questions to the Minister to get clarity on these matters.

Until these questions are answered, the poaching of our marine resources can be expected to increase exponentially. Of course, the effective condoning of poaching is indicative of a department whose legacy will be characterised more by poaching than by prudence.

Media enquiries:

Pieter van Dalen MP
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
083 655 2203

Piera Abbott
Senior Media Officer
076 130 5779

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Feike is in possession of an Inter-Ministerial memorandum of understanding concluded between the Ministers of Fisheries and Defence. In terms of the MOU, which is just longer than a single page, the Navy "shall perform the shipping management functions of the Fisheries Department's fleet of vessels with effect from 1st April 2012. The shipping management function shall include, but not be limited to:-

(a) The crewing (manning) of the vessels;
(b) The technical management of these vessels (maintenance, repair and life cycle management);
(c) The provisioning of these vessels;
(d) The bunkering of these vessels;
(e) The operation of these vessels;
(f) The accounting of all aspects relating to these functions; and
(g) Safety and seaworthiness.
Furthermore, the MOU records that it will remain in place for a period of 12 months and that for it to become operative, the two Ministers shall sign a service level agreement within 14 days from the date of signature of the MOU. The SLA shall include amongst others, the roles and responsibilities of the Parties, the manner in which possible disputes shall be resolved and the duration of the SLA.

Accordingly, for the next 14 days at least, South African waters will be unprotected and all fisheries research cruises will be on hold. The MOU does not clarify the following:

(a) When will the vessels actually be registered as naval vessels and removed from the SAMSA register of vessels?

(b) How will civilian personnel be permitted to function on board these vessels? Will fishery control officers be permitted to operate on the patrol vessels?

(c) How will civilian based research be undertaken on the "naval" research vessels?

(d) Who is going to "teach" the new crew when identified and appointed to commandeer these vessels as there has not been any handover which ought to have taken three months?