Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Government Confused: Who is in charge of the BBWW & WSCD Sectors?

We read from the draft MLRA amendment bill many strange and bizarre things. One of the more bizarre and confused provisions is the idea by the Minister of Fisheries that persons engaged in "non-consumptive use" will have to apply for a "right" to do so under section 18 of the MLRA. 

Now, of course, the Minister does not define what "non-consumptive use" entails.  However, assuming  that "non-consumptive use" actually refers to what we in the industry refer to as boat-based whale and dolphin watching (ie watching marine mammals) and white shark cage diving, then the Minister of Fisheries is going to really upset the Minister of Environmental Affairs because she claims that she is in charge of whales, turtles, dolphins and those tourist attracting great white sharks. 

And the Minister of Environmental Affairs will have good reason for being angry because just last year,  Tina Monica Joemat-Pettersson said on oath before the Western Cape High Court that she has nothing to do with these mammals and sharks, confirming in magnificent English (not that nonsense used in the draft policies and the MLRA amendment bill) that "[i]n line with the provisions of the proclamation, I do not consider that (ie the regulation of whale watching and shark cage diving) to be within the purview of my powers and functions but rather within those of the [Minister of DEA]". 

Eish, and now she wants to not only require whale watchers and shark cage divers to have a simple section 13 permit, they must apply for section 18 rights as well. 

To confound the whale watching and white shark diving sectors even further, the Minister of Environmental Affairs is presently seeking public comment on a draft set of regulations published under the Biodiversity Act (and not the MLRA) that will incorporate the regulation and management of these sectors under the draft Threatened and Protected Species Regulations.

So who is actually in charge of regulating the BBWW and WSCD sectors? The Minister of Fisheries or  the Minister of Environmental Affairs? Can industry choose? 

(For the sake of the sharks, turtles, dolphins and whales, we hope that its not tantrum tina. She may just decide to relocate some whales and turtles to Hartebeespoort Dam in her bid to equitably spread the fish away from the Western Cape). 

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