Over the past few days, the Fisheries Department and others like Tony Ehrenreich of COSATU/ANC have been bleating on about how the 2013 fishing right allocation process is all about "transformation".
So, we undertook a rather cursory glance of the entities granted tuna pole fishing rights to only conclude that what is actually punted as "transformation" looks more like cronyism, nepotism, fishing rights for ANC cadres and fishing rights to wealthy business people.
The timeslive daily newspaper has today already exposed a number of dodgy allocations in the traditional line fishery which only confirm the farcical nature of the allocations process. So it is confirmed that a senior ANC member's entire family landed themselves line fish quotas in Arniston. Nice. Transformation in action we will be told.
We however looked at the tuna pole fishery for a slight change of perspective. This is what we found in only an hour of basic verification.
We found at least two new entities that scored tuna rights are based in Cresta and Midrand, Gauteng! How does this help coastal communities? Do they even have access to a boat? And I dont mean a luxury cruiser that may be found on the Hartebeespoort Dam. Is this "transformation"?
Then, the ANC's Western Cape Economic Transformation and Rural Development Sub-committee member, Timothy Jacobs, who recently expounded the successes of the rights allocation process landed himself and a front company he controls not one but two tuna pole fishing rights! One can therefore understand why Mr Jacobs feels that the process was a phenomenal success!
Another ANC-linked community member from Hout Bay, whose company was found responsible for the death of a tourist and one crew member when the vessel, Miroshga, capsized in 2012, also scored a tuna fishing right. The company also holds a boat-based whale watching right. How does granting a fishing right to a company that was found to have violated numerous laws and safety regulations that resulted in the tragic death of two people help "transformation"? It will be interesting to see which vessel this company nominated as its tuna pole vessel.
The owner of a local Suzuki boat and engine franchise was also granted a right. Hardly a person that needs additional income or that is reliant on fishing to earn a living. How does this contribute to "transformation"?
And then there are clusters of companies and close corporations with the same owners and directors that were each awarded tuna pole fishing rights. This surely cannot promote "transformation", unless we understand it to actually mean greed. We also thought that "double-dipping" was expressly prohibited in terms of the General Fisheries Policy?
What this exercise confirms is that political connectivity appears to have been crucial in obtaining a fishing right or fishing rightS. In addition, very little data verification occurred to weed out the opportunistic applicants, such as the Gauteng-based applicants and other local business people who are now the happy holders of lucrative tuna pole fishing rights.
All the while, hundreds of fishermen and thousands of crew whose sole incomes have been earned in the tuna pole and traditional line fisheries over the past decades are facing ruin because of "transformation".