Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fallacies rule the Minister's Budget Vote

The Minister's budget vote and the speech in support by Lulu Johnson of the ANC repeat two fundamental falsehoods. The Minister and her department have clearly decided to pretend that they are the saviors of small-scale fishers. In support of this fallacy, they have repeatedly made two false statements.

FALLACY 1. The small-scale fishing policy and subsequent proposed amendments to the MLRA represent the first  ever interventions by the SA government to protect and acknowledge small-scale fishers. FACT: This is false for two reasons. Firstly, the fisheries policy of July 2001 explicitly recognised a specific regulatory regime and rights allocation process for small-scale commercial or artisinal fishers. Second, in 2005, the cluster management system introduced by the General Fisheries Policy further ring-fenced and recognised small-scale fishers thus exclusively allocating more than 73% of all fishing quotas to small-scale fishers.

FALLACY 2. The department intends allocating 70% of fishing rights to small-scale fishers. FACT: In 2005, more than 73% of all fishing quotas were allocated to artisinal and small-scale fishers in the Cluster C and Cluster D fisheries and line fishery.

The proposed draft fishing policies will in fact significantly prejudice and expose small-scale fishers to exploitation and fronting by breaking down the carefully constructed regulatory safeguards that protect small-scale and artisinal fishers under the 2005 General Fisheries Policy. By proposing to allow companies, close corporations, trusts, and co-operatives to access small scale fishing rights will certainly allow directors of large (fishing) corporations, lawyers, teachers, builders, departmental officials and other non-fishers to freely access quotas by hiding behind the veil of corporate identity or blind trusts. So it is unclear how this department and its minister will further protect the interests of small-scale fishers.

The Minister's proposed legal framework will certainly destroy small-scale fishers and allow for large enterprises to usurp small-scale fishing quotas. The budget vote and supporting rhetoric amounts to nothing more than an attempt to continue repeating fallacies in the hope that it becomes the accepted word.

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