Wednesday, April 17, 2013

DAFF's "Strategic Plan" is Rubbished by Parliament

DAFF's strategic plan has been completely rubbished by Parliament's fisheries portfolio committee research unit. 

The research unit has this to say about the "strategic plan".

"The Strategic Plan of the MLRF is marred by numerous spelling mistakes, typographical errors, incorrect acronyms, inconsistent font type and colour, frequent word-spacing errors, incomplete sentences and factually incorrect information. These mistakes can be found from the Foreword (Page 1) to the last page. This Strategic Plan is expected to be guiding the management of the approximately R5 billion industry, however, the lack of seriousness among the officials who compiled it leaves much to be desired. This is a clear indication that this fisheries management responsibility is in the wrong hands."

It is the most damning analysis of the plethora of failures by the fisheries department ever by Parliament. The Cape Times and Business Day have run articles on the report produced by the research unit. The fundamental conclusion is that fisheries management in South Africa is in the "wrong hands". 

The report also confirms each of the failings that Feike has identified to date. Most pertinently, the research report confirms that - 

  • The department's fisheries strategy is almost entirely contradicted by the National Development Plan particularly in so far as it has misdiagnosed the importance of the small scale fisheries sectors with respect to resource sustainability, economic growth and job creation. It must be noted that the draft General Policy also fails on this test as we have recently pointed out. The NDP is akin to a "super plan" and as such aspects of the draft General Fisheries Policy (particularly the purpose of and objectives clause) would require amendment and alignment with the NDP.
  • The department intends presenting a draft Marine Living Resources Act amendment bill to the Portfolio Committee this year despite the fact that the fishing right allocation process requires an amended MLRA in order to allocate fishing rights to, inter alia, co-operatives. Considering the public consultation and procedural obligations with respect to getting an amendment bill passed, we once again emphasise that the Department's proposed timetable and "roll-out plan" for the long term fishing rights allocation process is unattainable. 
  • The department's strategic plan fails to identify a single fisheries research objective or target and not a single new fishery is identified for development in 2013 or 2014. Does this mean that DAFF has decided that fisheries research is entirely unimportant and irrelevant! The Minister's conduct during the 2012 lobster TAC debacle is proof of this thinking. The research unit's report has this to say about this failure:
"The disturbing observation is that in the 2013/2014 Strategic Plan, the Department opted to remove the whole Fisheries Research and Development Chief Directorate from the Annual Performance Plan. This implies that there are no fisheries research targets. In the previous financial year, the targets under this Directorate included conducting research on fish stocks in the 22 fisheries sectors, research into potential new fisheries and aquaculture research. For some reason, the monitoring of vessels which has traditionally been in all Strategic Plans has not been included on the 2013/2014 Strategic Plans and APPs as well. It remains to be seen what the allocated budget will be spent on as there are no performance indicators on these core functions of the Branch."
  • There is no mention of the status of the fisheries observer programme, which remains in hiatus. The implementation of the observer programme was a key condition which was set by the Marine Stewardship Council last year for the continued certification of South Africa's hake trawl fisheries. Is the Minister and DAFF intentionally seeking to sabotage South Africa's MSC certification? How else can one explain such levels of utter belligerence and incompetence?
  • The research unit has identified a series of further problems and failings , including the admission by the DDG, Greta Apelgren-Narkedien, on Carte Blanche that her appointment as DDG was unlawful. 
The ball is now in the Portfolio Committee's court to hold Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to account for these mega failures. The Minister has already tried to avoid the committee meeting this morning at 10am. The portfolio committee has now rescheduled its meeting for 10am on 18 April 2013. 

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