So Mr Lionel Adendorf, departmental spokesperson for the Department of Fisheries ("DAFF"), was quoted in the Friday Argus newspaper (16 November) as stating that the Minister had nothing to do with the decision to abandon the lobster Operational Management Procedure ("OMP") and the recovery plan and the decision to maintain the TAC as unchanged was an internal DAFF decision "based on a variety of factors, including scientific research, economic and ecological considerations as well as employment creation".
Now we can say without doubt that Mr Adendorf is not only being dishonest but is talking absolute nonsense.
Firstly, DAFF (ie the Acting DDG) took a decision recorded in writing on 29 September 2012 to reduce the TAC by 9.72%. Once that decision was taken, it could not be re-taken in terms of South African law. Therefore, even on Mr Adendorf's dishonest and flawed version, the "decision" to change the TAC is unlawful and invalid.
Secondly, there is no scientific basis, let alone any economic or ecological considerations to support Mr Adendorf's flawed contentions. The scientific and ecological evidence is clear. The OMP must be followed and that OMP required a reduction which was accepted and confirmed by the Acting DDG of DAFF on 29 September 2012. However, Mr Adendorf must now show us the scientific evidence he and Tina Joemat-Pettersson have that support an unchanged TAC as being beneficial to the sustainability of rock lobster stocks. Make no mistake, Mr Adendorf raised this and we will now be demanding this evidence.
Further, we know for a fact that no economic or social studies were undertaken to determine whether a 9.72% TAC cut would result in job losses or any other adverse socio-economic consequences. But again, we will be demanding these studies from Mr Adendorf.
(We wonder if they will now try and declare this evidence a national key point too!)
Mr Adendorf, kindly provide us and the rest of the South African public with the following documents as a matter or urgency:
1. The scientific and ecological evidence showing that abandonment of the OMP and the rock lobster recovery plan is justifiable and necessary. In this regard, you must also explain why on Tuesday13 November, the Department's senior scientist, Dr Kim Prochazka, emphasised the importance of the lobster recovery plan, that it was being implemented and that she was completely unaware of any decision to maintain the TAC as unchanged. This is all recorded by the Parliamentary Monitoring Group in case you need to "apply your mind" to these facts. You can also Dr Prochazka for her PowerPoint presentation; and
2. The socio-economic studies you claim show that an unchanged TAC will not result in job losses and other adverse socio-economic consequences. In this regard, we are most interested to understand what will happen - socio-economically that is - when lobster stocks plummet to below 3% of pristine and area closures are required or when TAC cuts of upward of 20% are required (or does the department's new "science" show that lobster stocks are healthy?). What will happen to the WCRL industry when WWF-SASSI, which is now almost obligated to, list WCRL on its red-list and what will happen if north American markets close their doors to SA lobster because of sustainability concerns? Will this not lead to massive job losses and the effective shutting down of the lobster industry? Or did you you not bother to consider these socio-economic considerations?
Unfortunately, this is the result when political expediency is allowed to trump science, the rule of law and rationality. And it is happening all too often now. The ball is now urgently in the WCRL Industry's court. Will industry move to protect the resource and its right holders and the thousands of jobs it sustains? Watch this space.