Friday, July 5, 2013

Rights Allocation Process: The Deafening Silence

Despite having made promises galore about the gazetting of final fishing policies and the publication of invitations to apply for commercial fishing rights in 8 fishery sectors by 1 July 2013, the continued silence from DAFF and its Minister remains deafening. Week 1 has come and gone. And there is no explanation from Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson about why there have been no gazettes publishing the final fishing policies by 28 June 2013 and why no one was invited to apply for fishing rights on 1 July 2013.

Have they realised that their profound incompetence; their refusal to appoint properly qualified non-ANC lapdogs to positions of authority at the Fisheries Branch will result in the non-allocation of more than 1000 fishing quotas worth more than R600 million rand by deadline date? Or will we just get another revised timetable ignorant of legal and due processes? Here is a helpful explanation of how a bill becomes a law - it does not take a few weeks to promulgate an amendment Act. And it certainly does not take 2 weeks for Cabinet to consider and adopt policy.

There also continues to be no answers or responses to questions and comments that we were told to submit during the policy consultation process. Silence, non-responsiveness, secrecy, lack of accountability ... the trademarks of this rights allocation process. 

It we recall, the 2005 rights allocation process, although far from perfect, was grounded on the principles of consultation and responsiveness. Not only was the process underpinned by a formal consultation process that lasted for more than a month, but each week up to the allocation of the final fishing rights, a regular Q&A forum was published, together with an illustrated weekly newsletter that was published in four languages and aimed at keeping artisinal fishers updated on developments with respect to the rights allocation, evaluation and decision-making processes.  

What will the excuse be on 1 January 2014 when squid, line fishers and tuna fishers will no longer have valid long term fishing rights to secure the mortgages that keep them in houses and help fund their fishing vessels and pay crew their wages?

Minister, you and your officials have had 8 years to plan for a proper, fair and timeous rights allocation process. Are you really that incompetent or is this catastrophe intentional and by design for some self-serving objective?

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