Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The 2014 Lobster TAC - We Told You So!

When the Minister and her officials LIED about the circumstances that resulted in the 2012-2013 lobster TAC remaining unchanged, we warned of three important consequences. 

The first was that this unlawful, populist and ignorant decision would result in a SASSI downgrade for lobster. In May 2013, WWF announced that it would downgrade lobster from the green to orange (think twice before you buy) list.  

The second was the impact of this decision on small-scale fishers who sell a significant part of their frozen catches to local buyers. A number of responsible "green" hoteliers, restauranteurs and seafood retailers have now stopped buying the famed west coast lobster. 

And the third was that by not incrementally reducing the TAC as set out in the recovery plan, the 2013-2014 TAC would have to be substantially reduced. Feike predicted a 15-20% cut. The 2012-2013 proposed cut was 6% which was ignored by our ignorant Minister. 

Feike has now learnt that the 2013-2014 TAC cut will have to be 16%. That means that for a small to medium sized commercial quota holder (4 to 7 tons), the loss in income will now be between R160,000 and R280,000! How many jobs will be lost as a result of the Minister's stupidity and ignorance? How much less tax will be collected as business income is further eroded? This is just another case of how this government successfully destroys economic value with every decision it takes. 

And to further hammer home the message that DAFF's decision-makers are at best foolish and unable to comprehend basic economics, they are now mooting adding a further 300 quota holders to the already more than 1500 interim relief pool - is this a vote buying ploy before next year's elections using a precarious fish stock? These interim relief quota holders - who are nothing more than the recipients of a fisheries social welfare mechanism are currently entitled to harvest 167 kilogrammes of lobster annually (but poach at least ten times more in many cases). 167 kg's of lobster is worth approximately R25,000 annually. An additional 300 quota holders will mean that the annual 167 kg allowance will be reduced to 139 kg or R20,000 per annum. In a socio-economic environment where food, transport and electricity costs are rapidly rising, the reduction in income for this category of social-welfare recipients will only compound coastal poverty levels, resource destruction and intra-community conflict. 

Where in the world, does a government increase effort by 20% in a fishery that is 97% overfished and subject to a de facto biological emergency?  

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