Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Has DAFF Conjured a Solution to its Rights Allocation Problem?

Feike has been informed that two of DAFF's leading lights in the fisheries management chief directorate are presently strongly punting a "non-competitive" rights allocation process in a bid to engineer a solution to its present rights allocation time and skill woes! 

What on earth is a "non-competitive" rights allocation process I hear you plead with tears streaming down your cheeks? While we dont know for certain, one can only surmise that if the previous successful and constitutional court approved processes were described as being "competitive processes" where applicants in each sector were grouped as either right holders or new entrants and then were competitively scored against each other (right holders v right holders only and new entrants v entrants only) based on a published set of criteria and scoring system, then a "non-competitive" process can only be the opposite which equates to a free-for-all - aka a judicially reviewable process! 

Of course, one can understand how such a foolish notion could develop - from panic and the sudden realisation that if one has to actually follow due process and adhere to a proper and lawful system of allocating rights, fishing rights could simply not be allocated this year but perhaps in 12 months time and even this is now slipping away based on the convoluted and generally poorly drafted MLRA amendment bill (read our initial views on the draft Bill here) and not to mention the departure of the latest Fisheries DDG to wash up on our shores. (As an aside, Ms Apelgren-Narkedien said that she did not think running the fisheries branch would be this hard (!!), hence her departure to the balmy waters of KZN and its more pedestrian Housing Department). 

A non-competitive process on the other hand could be much easier to deal with. One would not have to waste precious time designing detailed criteria and weighting for each fishery; one would not have to waste time with detailed application forms asking unnecessary questions to determine what, if anything a right holder did with the right over the past 8 years; and one would certainly not have to waste precious gray matter evaluating applications, ranking them and then determining who gets a fishing right and who does not and then what amounts of fish they are entitled to. It will be a lot simpler and quicker to just allocate rights on a "non-competitive" basis. 

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