Friday, January 10, 2014

DA's Policy Statement on Fisheries and Oceans Management

The DA's complete policy statement on fisheries and oceans management is available here. We strongly urge any one interested or involved in SA fisheries to read this policy statement, which is also the DA's 2014 election manifesto on fisheries and oceans. 

Feike has requested the ruling ANC to make available its election manifesto policy statement on fisheries and oceans governance. 

We provide a summary of the key DA fisheries and oceans management policies below.


The management of South Africa’s fisheries must be based on the best available scientific and local community knowledge systems, coupled with the overarching precautionary management principle.

While South Africa’s offshore fisheries are relatively well-managed, our inshore fish stocks, including lobsters, line fishes, abalone and oysters, are in an extremely sensitive biological state. Scientific recovery plans are not adhered to and illegal fishing is decimating stocks. The recovery of overexploited and collapsed fish stocks has to be prioritised. Without fish, there can be no fishing quotas.

Fishing quotas

Allocation of fishing quotas must be undertaken in a manner that does not halt or fundamentally disrupt the economic operation of fishing businesses and such processes must continue to encourage black investment in and ownership of fishing quotas.

Allocation processes must ensure that small-scale fishing rights are allocated to:

 Fishers who actually fish their own quotas and are able to fully benefit from their quotas.
 Fishers who reside in coastal villages and towns adjacent to these fishing areas.

Allocation of fishing quotas to commercial right holders must be prefaced on the objectives of:

 Investing in sustainable and ecologically responsible fishing practices.
 Growing full-time and part-time employment.
 Ensuring fair and safe working conditions in processing factories and on fishing vessels.
 Supporting innovation by increasing operational and bureaucratic efficiencies.
 Empowering staff and investing in skills development.


The DA’s fisheries compliance strategy is prefaced on the following compliance and monitoring pillars:

 A comprehensive re-evaluation of the suitability and skills of fishery control officers (FCO’s) and landing monitors. FCO’s and landing monitors, in particular, would be subjected to regular lifestyle audits to ensure an honest and committed enforcement and monitoring frontline. FCOs would be employed on a 24/7 basis and not restricted to working office hours only.
 Each fisheries patrol vessel would annually spend a minimum of 200 days at sea and the management and deployment of these vessels would be undertaken by professionally qualified MCS experts.
 The dedicated ‘green’ courts that proved highly successful during 2003 and 2004 would be re- established in Hermanus and new dedicated green courts opened in high poaching areas like Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Vredenburg.
 Formal funded partnerships would be established with coastal municipalities, community-based conservancy organisations and NGO’s such SEAWATCH to help combat illegal fishing and to assist with community-based preventive compliance strategies that would focus on working with coastal communities to reduce illegal and irresponsible fishing.
 The recreational fishing sector would be encouraged to help police the near shore fish stock and partnerships would be established with responsible clubs and associations to protect our marine resources and ecosystem.
 The Fisheries Branch would no longer engage in the sale of confiscated fish products.


Fisheries research is at the very heart of the Fisheries Branch. Fisheries research must be premised on the principles of the best available scientific evidence and the precautionary principle. However, a critical, yet often ignored source of information on the state of fish stocks is local indigenous knowledge. Local indigenous knowledge and data of the fishing community, established fishing clubs and associations must be formally incorporated into fisheries operational management procedures and stock evaluation models.

Small-scale or artisanal fishing

South Africa has a thriving small-scale or artisanal fishing industry of more than 2 200 quota holders responsible for harvesting high value nearshore stocks such as lobsters, abalone, line fishes, oysters and hake (by handline). 

The DA would implement measures to increase the value of inshore fish stocks, predominantly by reducing the bureaucracy that presently strangles small-scale fisheries, by substantially reducing poaching and by introducing sustainable and greener harvesting technologies.

The key elements of the DA’s policy for small-scale fishing are as follows:

 Fishing quotas must be allocated to individuals to avoid fronting and abuse. However, should a fishing community wish to have quotas amalgamated into a co-operative, this should also be recognised.
 Fishing quotas must be allocated to persons who fish their own quotas.
 Small-scale fishers must be allocated quotas in the vicinity where they live based on the
internationally accepted Territorial User Rights Fishing (TURF) system so as to encourage
responsible fishing and to reduce poaching.
 Small-scale fishing quotas must be allocated for long term periods in accordance with TURF so as
to encourage ‘ownership’ of fish stocks, thus reducing uncertainty.
 The state must subsidise the costs of obtaining and maintaining small-scale fishery eco-labels so
as to increase the value of these stocks, which in turn would reduce the need for larger quotas
and illegal fishing.
 The state must pay for the scrapping of unnecessary fishing capacity and must consider
implementing a fishing right ‘buy-back’ programme to support the recovery of nearshore fish stocks.
 Levies for the nearshore lobster fishery need to be reviewed and reduced as these cannot be same as for the offshore lobster sector.

Industrial fishing

South Africa’s industrial fisheries land around 90% of all commercially harvested fish, contributing some R4 billion annually to the fisheries and South African economy. The industrial or commercial fisheries sector has been successfully empowered over the past 14 years with black control of fishing quotas upward of 60%. 

The key elements of the DA’s policy for industrial fishing are as follows:

 Fishing quotas to industrial quota holders must be more freely tradable. Right holders must be allowed to sell and manage their fishing quotas once allocated in order to maximise efficiencies and extract maximum value provided that these are done in a socially and ecologically responsible manner. The DA would substantially review the anachronistic and uncompetitive Transfer of Fishing Rights Policy.
 All bureaucratic frameworks, policies and processes would be fundamentally reviewed in order to remove all unnecessary red-tape. For example, levies would be payable annually and all permit processes will allow self-issue via electronic means.
 The landing of fish would not be conditional on the presence of fishery control officers as the Fisheries Branch would employ smart monitoring technologies, including an electronic three- point reporting programme, comprising e-logbooks, sales notes and VMS.
 The state must pay for the scrapping of unnecessary fishing capacity and must consider implementing a fishing right ‘buy-back’ programme to support the recovery of overexploited fish stocks.

Recreational fishing

The DA would support the expansion of the recreational fishing sector by removing all unnecessary red-tape, particularly by reviewing the problematic manner in which permits are made available. For example, the DA would immediately put in place an electronic permit for recreational fisheries, which can be applied and paid for electronically and where the permit is issued immediately to the applicant’s smart-phone, tablet or other electronic device. The same mechanism would be implemented for non-commercial fish exports and imports. 

Foreign fishing vessels in South Africa waters

The DA would not permit any form of foreign fishing in South African waters as we believe that all our fish stocks that can be commercially fished, can be fished by South Africans.

Foreign fishing vessels would however be welcome to call at any South African port for stores, bunkers, fuel, the transhipment of fish and for other provisions provided that:

 Such vessels are not listed as being Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) on any regional or international management list.
 Such vessels are able to provide the requisite guarantees and insurances to pay for the costs of any salvage or pollution that may result from their presence in South African waters.

Research and patrol vessel management

South Africa’s fleet of fisheries research and patrol vessels have been recklessly managed. The management and maintenance of these vital South African assets must be in the hands of professional and internationally recognised ship managers who are able to provide value to the South African government.

Expanding the fisheries economy

The DA does not believe in increasing the number of quota holders in any of the current fisheries, whether industrial or small-scale. This is in accordance with the National Development Plan.

The expansion of the fisheries economy can only be undertaken by:

 Identifying new commercially sustainable fisheries, such as a directed red-herring fishery.
 Expanding the size of the horse-mackerel fishery through committed research.
 Reducing bureaucratic costs.
 Supporting product innovation, market diversification and beneficiation.
 Subsidising the costs of obtaining eco-label certification for qualifying fisheries.
 Supporting the expansion of aquaculture farms.

Innovation and green technologies fund

The DA would create a dedicated Innovation and Green Technologies Fund under the Marine Living Resources Fund to support:

 Research into new commercial fisheries, fishing gear or fishing practices.
 Investments into greener and more efficient technologies.
 The establishment and entry into new markets.
 The eco-labelling of qualifying fisheries.
 The establishment of green aquaculture farms. 

Fish farming

Although South Africa has a comprehensive marine fish farming regulatory framework, the regulatory and bureaucratic hurdles are preventing the start-up small-scale fish farming projects. The DA would promote small-scale fish farming where annual production is 10 tons or less by automatically granting farming permits provided that the prospective farmer:

 Intends to farming with species that are not defined as being invasive aliens.
 Has access to water and appropriately zoned land.

Recognising the skills of fishers

Indigenous fishermen must be recognised for the highly specialized task they perform. Among other things:

 They must be recognized for the important role they play in the food security of South Africa.
 Their skills must be recognised and they must be given recognition of prior learning against
existing unit standards.
 Training and assessment must be made accessible and delivered locally.
 Local experts should be trained and employed as assessors to ensure authentic expertise.
 Local indigenous knowledge should be incorporated in scientific assessments.

Halting the professional rot at the fisheries branch

The DA would immediately reverse the practice of employing unsuitable and unqualified persons at the Fisheries Branch. In addition, the current staff complement needs urgent review and right-sizing.

The politicisation of the management of the Fisheries Branch must be ended. The Fisheries Branch must be elevated to become the professional centre of excellence for fisheries management in the Southern Hemisphere.


Integrated coastal and oceans management is mandated by South African law, yet management of our oceans and coast is divested from fisheries. This lack of integration not only harms oceans management, it unnecessarily creates a huge and expensive duplicated bureaucracy in the form of the Oceans and Coasts Branch in the Department of Environmental Affairs. Oceans and coasts cannot be managed separately from fisheries and the DA would reintegrate management of our oceans, coasts and fisheries under a single regulatory authority.

Marine protected areas

South Africa had committed to protecting 20% of its sea space by 2012 during the 2003 World Parks Congress. To date, we protect less than 1.5% of our oceans. The DA will seek to rapidly protect our ocean space from fishing by creating networks of offshore marine protected areas aimed at stock recovery. Two urgent marine protected areas are needed to protect fish stocks at Childs Mound between the Groen and Spoeg Rivers and the Orange River cone area.

Marine protected areas must:

 Function as a network of integrated of protected areas aimed at creating refuge for breeding commercial fish stocks.
 Not alienate and threaten coastal access to fish and fisheries and must complement small-scale fishing.

Large marine ecosystem management

South Africa is a member of two large marine ecosystem (LME) programmes, the Benguela Current LME on the west coast and the Agulhas-Somali Current LME on the east coast. Neither of these critical LME programmes influence the management of fisheries in South Africa despite the fact that in terms of both LME programmes, the management methodologies and procedures of shared stock fisheries by member states must increasingly be harmonised.

Marine-based Ecotourism

South Africa’s marine-based ecotourism sectors are dominated by the extremely lucrative boat- based whale and dolphin watching, and white shark cage diving industries. However, both sectors are hamstrung by inappropriate policies and bureaucratic red-tape and unscientific limitation of the number of operators in defined areas.

The DA believes that the state should work with the tourism market to determine how many whale and dolphin watching and shark cage diving operators are able to operate profitably in any specific area.
The regulatory authority, together with the applicable industry management body, must ensure that all operators:

 Adhere to strict safety codes.
 Implement and adhere to responsible operator codes of practice aimed at protecting sharks,
whales, dolphins and turtles.

1 comment:

  1. Very good valid points(shows Shaheen has some insight given his involvement with the then MCM). However a number of the suggestions here do not differ much with scientific publications (e.g papers on the SAJMS and the CJMS- these are marine journals- RSA and Canada) and including the South Africa's state of the fisheries report 2013/14- published by DAFF (written by various scientists)- I then struggle to figure out how this is tagged as the DA's policy/manifesto for Fisheries? otherwise very good content (well researched)