Monday, December 1, 2014

DAFF Determines Abalone 2014/2015 TAC

The Fisheries Department (DAFF), led by its Deputy Director-General and the Chief Directors of Research, Fisheries Management and Compliance met with representatives of the SA Abalone industry today (1 December 2014) and confirmed that a decision has been taken to set the 2014-2015 abalone TAC at 96 tons. 

The 96 ton allocation is substantially less than the 160 tons motivated for by the industry in a detailed motivation of more than 15 pages. However, the meeting was brief but extremely productive with the DDG, Mr Mortimer Mannya, making it plain that he and his management team intend managing fisheries such as abalone very differently to the past. Mr Mannya emphasised the need for increased collaboration, information sharing and partnerships to be built between industry and his management team. Mr Mannya was nonetheless frank and to the point about his obligations of having to determine the TAC by striking a balance between the scientific advice provided to him and the requirements of industry and right holders. 

The 96 ton TAC is identical to that set for the previous season (2013-2014) but could conceivably be increased once the DAFF confirms the findings of its two experimental fishery programmes which were conducted in the False Bay. Both experimental programmes directly involved abalone right holders and the understanding is that the results will confirm that the resource in the False Bay is healthy and can sustain a commercial fishery of approximately 10 tons (eastern False Bay) and 12 tons (western False Bay between Cape Point and Muizenberg excluding the current protected areas). 

The case by right holders for a larger TAC (or at the very least to not be penalised for the department's repeated failure to substantially reduce poaching) received significant legal support toward the end of November when the North Gauteng High Court ruled that a decision by DAFF and its Minister to ban recreational fishing for Steenbras was unlawful as it was based, inter alia, on outdated scientific data, without any clear understanding of the causes of demise of steenbras stocks and without any consideration for the socio-economic impacts of such a decision. 

The abalone industry will be meeting with DAFF to finalise fishing permit conditions, inter-area allocations, general management rules for the upcoming season and importantly whether right holders will have to pay annual permit and levy fees at 11am on Thursday 4 December 2014. Right holders are encouraged to contact their area representatives should they wish to comment on any of the proposed permit conditions and/or to provide any inputs pertaining to the additional issues that will be finalised at the 4 December 2014 MWG meeting. 

Annual International Review of South African Fisheries Commences in Cape Town

The Annual International Stock Assessment Review Workshop focussing on Hake and penguins commenced today at the University of Cape Town. The Annual Review Workshop will conclude on Friday 5 December. The Workshop is open to all interested persons. 

Six leading international fisheries scientists arrived in Cape Town this past weekend to conduct an annual review of the analyses used to provide scientific advice for the management of South Africa’s major fisheries. 

Starting on 1 December 2014, the review workshop, which is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the National Research Foundation, takes place at the University of Cape Town and concludes with a presentation by the six-member panel of their findings and recommendations at 15h30 on Friday, 5 December 2014.

The scientists making up the review panel are: 

Alistair Dunn (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand);
Jason Link (National Marine Fisheries Service, USA); 
André Punt (University of Washington, USA);
Tony Smith (Panel Chair, Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation, Australia);
Gunnar Stefansson (University of Iceland); and
Robin Waples (National Marine Fisheries Service, USA).

This year’s discussions will focus on hake, which is South Africa’s most important and valuable fishery, upon which thousands of jobs in the Western Cape depend. The group will review research related to the possible sharing of hake populations with Namibia, and the implications that might have for joint decision making for hake resources in the region. 

The other major fishery that will come under consideration is that for sardine and anchovy. Firstly, there is the question of how the management of the sardine resource can be improved, given that it probably consists of a west and a south-coast stock, rather than comprising a single unit as previously supposed. Secondly, there are also associated implications for the recovery of the African penguin population, which has decreased rapidly since the turn of the century, being currently at its lowest recorded abundance, and relies primarily on sardine and anchovy for food. The panel will review results from an initiative involving closures to purse-seine fishing in the vicinity of islands containing penguin breeding colonies, which aims to ascertain whether this assists penguin recovery.

For enquiries regarding attendance, please contact Ms Di Loureiro at 021 650 2340 (until 14h00) or, or Riana Geldenhuys at 021 650 4846, 082 460 5554 or