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.


  1. It is not true that every fishing nation on the planet need less vessels. Please support that with a reference. Global overcapacity (here is a elusive concept "capacity"), is not the same as regional overcapacity.

    In addition, if the fishery is managed through an output (quota) regime, then it is not the ministers problem how many vessels are taking part. This should be left to the market to decide.

    This is a social redistribution, resources should be moved from a group that had their time making profit out of the resources to people who have been suffering from lack of access.

    Further, the Minister might be aware that in many cases small artisinal fishing is environmentally, economically and socially more sustainable. This has been the position of FAO for many years.

  2. Well JP, it is common cause that regionally, inshore fisheries is generally overexploited and in a parlous state. Within the BCLME region, (noting Namibia has a tiny "inshore" fishery sector), Angola does not regulate artisinal fishing as it operates on an open access basis. The same applies in Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania. This is not sustainable and is contrary to the FAO Code for Responsible Fisheries.

    Your argument that social redistribution is required is fallacious. Small scale fisheries CANNOT access deep-water stocks unless you envision forcing artisinal fishers to row out 100 miles and trawl for fish. Redistribution has already taken place in the capital intensive deep-water sectors. Just compare stats from 1994 to present. Similarly your argument about the market regulating vessel numbers is confused. The fisheries sector is not market controlled but highly regulated by DAFF which seeks to control even the sale of shares in quota holders! The market SHOULD regulate such matters but DAFF refuses!

    Finally, your statement that small-scale fishing is environmentally more sustainable is also contradicted by the fact that every SA inshore commercial fishery is either in a crisis or hopelessly overexploited such as lobster, abalone, line fish... In fact the interim relief lobster sector is accused of having overcaught its allocation by more than 10 fold in certain areas! Hardly sustainable wouldn't you agree!