Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Will the Green Party Succeed?

The Green Party led by Judith Sole served a second set of papers on the Minister of Fisheries and various "interested parties" this afternoon. Ms Sole seeks to review and set aside the decision by the Minister of Fisheries and/or Acting DDG of the Fisheries Branch to continue to permit fishing for lobsters during the current 2012/2013 fishing season. 

Ms Sole is seeking an interdict to halt all fishing for lobsters until the resource recovers from its present levels of being 97% overfished to a level of sustainability estimated to be when the lobster biomass is at 20% of pristine or "pre-fishing" levels. 

Ms Sole is alternatively seeking an interdict against the offshore commercial fishing industry in a bid to halt the commercial trap fishery while allowing the near shore commercial and the interim relief sectors to continue fishing. 

Ms Sole's application is not only fraught with factual inaccuracies and inconsistent conclusions, her application is fatally flawed as she has failed to properly serve her application on any one of the more than 1,000 commercial (nearshore and offshore) right holders and the interim relief exemption holders. In particular, Ms Sole is obliged to served these papers on each of the 250 commercial right holders as she seeks to halt their multi-million rand fishing rights to harvest lobster. 

This fatal technicality aside, Ms Sole is also requesting a court to second guess the advice of expert scientists who recommended that commercial fishing can continue within the confines of a lobster recovery plan and a reduced TAC for the current 2012/2013 fishing season. This is where Ms Sole's review ought to have focussed - the irrational and unlawful conduct of the Minister and her DDG to ignore the sound scientific advice of the west coast rock lobster scientific working group, which recommended a TAC reduction in line with the WCRL fishery operational management plan and recovery strategy. 

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