Thursday, May 30, 2013

Joemat-Pettersson costs Lobster its SASSI Green Status

Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson's reckless and unlawful conduct last year which saw her department's managers unlawfully amend the west coast rock lobster TAC and thus ignore her own department's scientific advice, has now resulted in the WWF-SASSI programme downgrading lobster from its green list to orange, effectively threatening the continued export of lobsters to the EU, North American and other markets concerned about sustainability. This of course will not impact exports to China. 

The downgrading will certainly hit small-scale lobster fishers the hardest and is yet another indication how - despite all the empty populist rhetoric from this Minister about addressing poverty and unemployment and empowering small-scale fishers - Minister Joemat-Pettersson and her band of deployed cadres are without doubt the greatest threat to the sustainability of the SA fishing industry (large and small-scale).

By listing lobster on the orange list, SASSI is effectively telling consumers to not eat the famed west coast rock lobster and instead seek an alternative and more sustainable option. This listing will be devastating for legal small-scale and interim relief quota holders who will now find it impossible to sell their catches locally to responsible hotels and restaurants. The effect will be that small-scale fishers will be increasingly forced to turn to industrial operators who have the resources to pack lobsters for the export market in China and thus reduce incomes further and increase reliance on big industry. So much for small-scale fisher empowerment, Minister! (or is this consequence intentional and by design?)

The WWF emphasised that “[t]he sustainable and responsible management of South Africa’s marine resources needs evidence-based decision making. This assessment process has shown how the lack of an observer programme and regular at-sea enforcement as well as inconsistent biomass surveys can negatively impact the sustainable management of our fisheries.”

Considering the rate at which inshore fish stocks have been descimated under this admionistration's reign, the 2012 small-scale fishing policy will shortly be rendered unimplementable because of a lack of nearshore fish - never-mind the absence of a coherent fisheries management plan. Period. 

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