Saturday, June 16, 2012

DAFF Changes its False Tune on MSC

After the mind-numbingly stupid comments on MSC by the Department on Thursday stating that the hake trawl fisheries must simply look for other markets if the MSC cancelled South Africa's hake MSC status, the Fisheries Department has now panicked and suddenly changed its false tune. 

On 15 June 2012, the Department issued a statement suddenly recognising the importance of the MSC certification and the need for an observer programme. Suddenly the relationship between DAFF and the MSC is "solid and strong". On Thursday, the department held the MSC in contempt stating that "[i]t is worth noting that MSC is not the only eco label — there are also others ... ". But on Friday, the relationship is "solid and strong". The levels of dishonesty are appalling. But it also shows a Department and Minister completely confused and unable to stitch together a vision or plan that lasts more than a day. 

Here is the department's full statement issued on Friday 15 June.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) would like to reassure the fishing industry as a whole – owners and workers alike – that it is committed to putting the marine research vessels back at sea and the required scientific observer programme in place in a bid to retain the hake deep sea trawl sector Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.A procurement process is underway to contract a service provider for the scientific observer programme – to monitor each vessel of the fishing companies going out to sea for fishing purposes - to ensure compliance and prevent possible over-fishing. The procurement process is expected to be concluded by end of August this year. 
As a responsible government department, cognisant of the importance of fishing to the country’s Gross Domestic Product and job creation, the department will continue to do everything in its power to meet all obligations that will ensure the attainment of the highest levels of integrity in the industry.Part of this endeavour is to continuously engage with external and internal stakeholders in the fishing industry in order to ensure that the department meets or exceeds its targets for each and every fishing sector. 
DAFF is committed to ensuring that it meets all the requirements needed to ensure that the fishing stocks get the best value for money and that access to all markets, old and new, are guaranteed.Having the fishery certified by the  Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) does not only help the department to improve its own systems of managing particularly hake trawl fishery, but it also ensures that it meets the highest standards of sustainable management of the stock and add value to it. The relationship between DAFF and the MSC is solid and strong. 
The Fisheries branch of the department is proud of the fact that it has consistently attained an average of 83% score in all previous assessments, and because of this high regard for this eco-label it is currently in discussions with the hake long-line sector and has done preliminary analysis of this sector in preparation for an application for certification.Daff has been locked in discussions with representatives from MSC during the last month as part of their bi-annual country surveillance and we are awaiting the assessment report due next month. 
The department was disappointed to learn of the media statement issued by the DA’s Pieter van Dalen quoting yesterday’s BusinessDay newspaper, but ignoring today’s edition of the same newspaper which sought to allay the fears of the fishing industry.In the discussions that the department has had with the industry there never was anything mentioned about the possible loss of 5 000 jobs. This figure, or any other figure of job losses, remains a thumb-sucked imagination of Van Dalen.
We note the Department's disappointment with regard to the DA statement on the possible loss of jobs should the trawl fisheries lose MSC certification. Rather than being disappointed with the DA statement, the Department should instead be appalled by the foolishness and irresponsibility of its "spokespersons". 

Statements issued by the Department last week alone indicate the levels of contempt its officials have for sustainable and legal fisheries management. 

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