Friday, April 4, 2014

DAFF & the Forgotten Abalone Rights Allocation Process

Members of the South African Abalone Industry Association - a deeply divided and moribund association - have confirmed to Feike that with less than 4 months to go before 303 abalone fishing rights terminate, the department of fisheries continues to operate with its head firmly in the sand.

DAFF has not even begun preparing for what will be a hugely contested and controversial rights allocation process. DAFF had refused to even place the subject of a rights allocation process on any of its 2013 management working group meeting agendas. If the 2013 FRAP has imploded into a cesspool of corruption, failure and maladministration, it is hard to comprehend the degree of disaster awaiting any abalone rights allocation.

What will happen come 30 July 2014 when 303 abalone rights terminate? More joblessness? Uncertainty, pandemonium, corruption? Rights being haphazardly allocated to party cronies and leaders of organised criminal gangs; rampant poaching that may finally be the death knell for any legal fishery? Unfortunately, that appears to now be guaranteed.

There has not been any policy review process; no analysis of whether the 2003 policy objectives have been met or not and why? During the whole of 2013, DAFF's compliance staff did not attend a single management working group meeting. What we do know is that abalone poaching is now well and truly completely out of control (as admitted by DAFF during a portfolio committee meeting in 2013) and DAFF is one of the principal beneficiaries of abalone poaching as it continues to profit massively from the sale of illegal abalone.

Tragically, the only reasonable prognosis is more of FRAP 2013 at the very best. And let us not forget about the 2015 fishing rights allocation processes in crucial fisheries such as mackerel, inshore trawl, lobster, seaweed, large pelagics etc. Preparations for these processes are already some 6-8 months late and don't expect any progress between now and May 7 (the General Elections) as CADRE civil servants will be too busy trying to vie for political support and votes as opposed to managing fisheries. The South African fishing industry had better wake up before FRAP 2013 magically morphs into FRAP 2015.

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