The Second Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill was passed by the National Assembly (NA) on 7 November 2013. In the next edition of Maritime Review Africa I address the fact that the Amendment Bill is a poser, which despite the protestations of the Minister of Fisheries and her officials, is nothing more than empty rhetoric and false promises.
The inclusion of co-operatives as possible right holders simply does not address the history of fishing co-operative failure in this country. And then there is the desperate attempt to pretend that small-scale fishers were never before recognised by South African African law - as if the 2200 current artisinal right holders do not exist; do not hold fishing rights; and have not made massive investments in boats and people.
The undeniable fact however remains that fishing rights cannot be allocated to co-operatives under the 2013 Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP). Despite all the hype and rhetoric by the Fisheries Minister since the NA passed the amendment bill, the Bill must still be submitted to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for further debate and deliberation as the Bill is a Section 76 Bill (as opposed to a Section 75 Bill which the Minister and her officials pigheadedly kept insisting on until late October).
The legal recognition of co-operatives as an entity that may hold a section 18 MLRA fishing right will only come about once the President signs such a Bill (whether in its current form or amended) into law and confirms a commencement date. As we have repeatedly stated in past BLOGS, any co-operative that had applied for a right under the FRAP process will not be allowed to lawfully hold a fishing right as the FRAP predates such a law allowing co-operatives to apply for and hold fishing rights. As such, any application submitted by a co-operative was a waste of time.
Finally, the current Interim Relief 8 process which purports to allocate quotas to groupings of people under apparent co-operatives is a good example of how DAFF has become a law unto itself and now igniting significant levels of conflict and tension within communities. We understand that in the Ocean View area, the department has "chosen" the name of the only representative in the area to whom the entire Ocean View quota will be "entrusted". All the interim relief quota holders on the "Ocean View area" list were told that if they objected to the department's chosen (and chosen how?) person, they will simply lose their IR quota! This unfortunately is the model of soviet control that the department seeks to implement under the guise of "co-operatives". It fundamentally seeks to control which connected individuals will benefit from quotas it allocates under closed and secretive processes; it alone will secretly determine the conditions of access (what criteria and transparent processes were used to appoint these "chosen" area representatives?); and the department has now publicly decided that certain persons may threatened with exclusion from receiving quotas solely because they are members of one or other association that asks the "wrong questions".
If the department is allowed to continue along this grossly unlawful path, the socio-economic fall-out from this divisive process that is pitting neighbour against neighbour will make the collapse of the South African Commercial Fishing Co-operative look like the proverbial walk along the beach.