Sunday, August 30, 2015

Beware of the Rise of the Dubious Fisheries Consultant!

As we approach the possible commencement of the 2015/2016 fishing rights allocation process, Feike has been approached by a number of current right holders and potential new entrant applicants / investors wanting advice on preparatory steps that they should take in anticipation of the next fishing rights allocation process.

We have also been made aware of a number of "consultants" emerging to provide advice on completion of future application forms. The rate at which these "consultants" will emerge will surely gather momentum once greater clarity and certainty is available regarding the 2015/2016 rights allocation process.

As has been the case with past fishing rights allocation processes, Feike does not assist with the completion of forms and neither do we advise individual applicants on preparatory steps and measures. In deserving cases, we may provide legal and fisheries advice on a pro bono basis.

Accordingly, we can dispense the following advice without being concerned about slating potential "competitors".

Firstly, if a consultant is required to assist with the completion of the form or part of the form, check the history and track record of the consultant concerned. Do not use "new" consultants or those who have no track record and experience in the fisheries sector.

Secondly, before you agree to use the consultant's services, first check if they had assisted applicants during previous right allocation processes and how successful they were. Don't take their word for it. Contact the right holders concerned and confirm this and check if they will be using the same consultant again.

Thirdly, agree a fee in advance and reduce the appointment to writing specifying the services to be provided and deadlines to be achieved. Make sure that a failure to meet a deadline will result in a financial penalty to be deducted from the consultant's final payment. This is important as there has been a history of consultants using these processes to earn substantial fees but who take on too many clients. They are then unable to satisfactorily complete the application form ... or worse, they fail to submit the forms on time, resulting in the application being excluded.

Fourthly, if a consultant is appointed to prepare your application form, make sure that they are contracted to provide you with the final draft version at least 72 hours before the gazetted application deadline date and time to allow yourself to carefully scrutinise the information in the form and to obtain any additional information and data.

Finally, do not pay the full agreed fee upfront. Agree to make payments only upon the attainment of agreed milestones.

Abalone Fishery Extended

The Acting DDG of the Fisheries Branch, Ms Siphokazi Ndudane, has extended the 2014/2015 abalone season to the end of September 2015. The decision to extend the season, which normally ends at the end of July each year, was in response to a request by two current abalone divers, Messrs Michael Wurbach and Scott Russell.

The decision to extend the abalone season was justified because of the delayed commencement of the 2014/2015 abalone season and fewer than normal fishing days during the season because of bad weather.

The extension however only applies to those abalone divers who had not harvested their own individual fishing quotas by 30 July 2015. The current abalone transport and fishing permit conditions will continue to apply.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

SA Fisheries Minister Announces Appeal Decisions in Prawn Trawl Fishery

This is the official press statement issued by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on 18 August 2015.

The purpose of this media statement issued by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr Senzeni Zokwana, is to inform the South African public and the fishing industry in particular of the Minister’s decisions on appeals filed against decisions taken on 30 December 2013 in the KwaZulu-Natal Prawn Trawl fishery. The Minister will over the coming 8 weeks be issuing his decisions on appeals in the remaining 7 fishing sectors that were decided under the 2013 Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP 2013).

True to the Minister’s commitment to redress the various concerns and problems that had plagued the FRAP 2013, the Minister has appointed three non-departmental officials to an Appeals Advisory Team to advise him on the FRAP 2013 appeals. These individuals include Advocate Shaheen Moolla; Professor Julian Smith and Attorney Mamakhe Mdhluli.

On Tuesday 11 August 2015 and Thursday 13 August 2015, Minister Senzeni Zokwana was briefed by members of his appeals advisory team on 17 appeals that were filed by appellants in the KwaZulu-Natal Prawn Trawl fishing sector. During the first meeting, the Minister was briefed by his advisory team on the processes and methodology adopted and that the appeals advisory team would be guided by certain core values and principles, including a commitment to legality, honesty and integrity.

At the end of December 2013, the Acting Deputy Director-General: Fisheries Management, decided to allocate a total of 5 fishing rights in this fishery. Of these 5 rights, two rights were granted authorizing trawling in both inshore and offshore waters. The remaining 3 fishing rights were allocated in offshore waters only. A total of two fishing rights (or vessels) remain available for allocation by the Minister.

Read the Minister's decisions here.