On 7 August 2013, Cabinet Ministers met for their monthly meeting and again no mention is made of them having considered - let alone - approved any of the fisheries policies. As previously stated, in terms of the Constitution, Cabinet MUST develop and implement national policy, including the fisheries policies.
These current rights allocation process and related processes are thus all tainted with unlawfulness and will all certainly be set aside once reviewed. And litigation is a dead certainty as history has shown.
However, returning to the Cabinet meeting of 7 August 2013, the following notable decisions were taken -
1. Cabinet approved accession in terms of section 231 of the Constitution of the IOTC Agreement, the CCSBT Agreement and importantly the UN Port State Measures Agreement of 2009. These are indeed welcomed albeit long-overdue developments. Although it is uncertain what is to be acceded to when it comes to IOTC and CCSBT as these are not international or regional treaties.
2. Cabinet confirmed that SA will host the 11th COP Abidjan Convention meeting, which will be held in Cape Town during March 2014.
3. Finally, Minister Joemat-Pettersson announced that Cabinet had approved the draft Marine Living Resources Bill, 2013. It is unclear what version was passed but the Minister stated the following during a post-cabinet briefing:
“This is the first time in the history of the fishing industry that we are amending the MLRA. This is both historic and significant because it outlines our commitment to making fishing inclusive to all who participate in the sector. Small-scale fishing communities were and still are extremely prejudiced by the previous commercial fishing rights allocation process as a large percentage of the fishing communities did not receive any fishing rights. This current state of affairs has resulted in small-scale fishing communities facing high levels of abject poverty, unemployment and food insecurity. Many of us are aware of violent outbreaks at historical fishing communities like Hawston. Poaching, drugs and crime have come to characterise coastal communities as fishermen find it difficult to access fish and earn a legitimate living.
Of course, the MLRA was previously amended (this would be the second amendment) and small-scale fishers have been explicitly accommodated in every rights allocation process since 2001 in terms of 2001 and 2005 fisheries policies. That is why there are more than 2200 small scale fisherman presently in SA and why they have exclusive rights of access to the Cluster C and D and line fish sectors. I guess if you repeat a lie repeatedly, it does become the truth.