Feike has learnt that the Minister of Fisheries directly interfered in the setting of the lobster TAC by acting contrary to the critical West Coast rock lobster recovery plan.
Although much vaunted in Parliament as part of the department of fisheries' "successes", the implementation of the West Coast rock lobster recovery plan and the lobster Operational Management Procedure ("OMP"), has essentially been tossed out of the window by the Fisheries Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson.
Feike has been informed that the Minister's commitment to the wanton destruction of our fisheries sector continues with apparent gusto.
Durring last week, and subsequent to months of consultations and discussions between the Department's scientists and managers and the West Coast rock lobster industry association (representing commercial and artisinal fishers), the recreational fishing sector and the "interim relief" sector, it was agreed that a 9.6% cut in the lobster TAC is required to ensure that the fishery is able to recover from the present appalling levels to slightly less appalling levels over the next decade.
Lobster biomass is presently at about 3% of pristine. The recovery plan seeks to re-build stocks to a shocking 5% of pristine in the next ten years.
Despite reaching consensus, we understand that one right holder (yes, 1 right holder in a sector of more than 1000 right holders) was unhappy and approached the Minister directly. We are informed that the Minister then intervened and instructed an official at DAFF to not amend the lobster TAC for the 2012-2013 season.
The consequences of this egregious and irresponsible conduct are substantial and long-term. The effective abandonment of the OMP and recovery plan will mean that subsequent lobster TAC's will have to reduced by 15% and more for sustained periods. This will almost certainly result in adverse socio-economic consequences, including job losses and increased coastal poverty along the west coast.