At its first sitting this week, the newly constituted Fisheries Portfolio Committee was warned by its own Parliamentary research office that hot on the heels of the failed 2013 rights allocation process, the fisheries department was continuing headlong into fresh rights allocation process pandemonium.
There are now essentially 3 weeks left before more than 300 abalone right holders will see their rights flushed down the proverbial DAFF toilet, together with more than 14 years of investments in boats, jobs, markets and fishing gear. And why? Because the department refuses to acknowledge it failed (AGAIN) to properly plan for and develop a fishing rights allocation process for this sector.
Certain right holders have however approached the Public Protector's Office. The Public Protector will be commencing with public hearings into the department's failure to properly plan for this latest fishing rights allocation process.
In addition, I have assisted and advised the Democratic Alliance (as the Official Opposition in Parliament) by preparing a Private Members' MLRA amendment bill aimed at amending Section 18 (6A) of the MLRA to allow for a "roll-over" of abalone fishing rights and those rights that are up for re-allocation in 2015.
The department has also not commenced any preparatory work or processes for the 2015 fishing rights allocation process. And based on the findings of its own internal legal review into FRAP 2013, the department requires no less than 3 years to properly and lawfully development and implement a reliable fishing rights allocation process. The first set of rights that need to be re-allocated in 2015 is in the large pelagic fishery where rights expire on 28 February 2015 (i.e. in about 7 months' time).
Given the fact that more than 2 months have already passed since the previous Fisheries Minister declared FRAP 2013 to be illegal and nothing has been done about reviewing and setting aside this process, it is inconceivable that a new 2013 rights allocation process could be developed and implemented before 2017. It stands to reason then, that the 2015 fishing rights could only be properly re-considered by 2020.