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. 

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