Monday, September 9, 2019


On 8 December 2019, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries announced that "Cabinet took a decision on Wednesday, 4 September 2019, to extend the timeframes for dealing with the fishing rights in twelve commercial fishing sectors which will expire on 31 December 2020."

The statement further recorded that:

"The twelve sectors that are due for allocation in terms of Section 18 of the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998 are: KZN Prawn Trawl; Demersal Shark; Tune-Pole Line; Hake Handline; Line Fish; White Mussels; Oysters; Squid; Small Pelagics (Pilchard and Anchovy); Hake Deepsea Trawl; Hake Longline; and South Coast Rock Lobster.


The FRAP process will therefore be extended until 31 December 2021.  During this time, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) will conduct socio-economic impact analysis studies on the General Policy on the Allocation of Commercial Fishing Rights, as well as the 12 Sector-specific polices."
We have stated on this BLOG and on our Twitter handle previously that a Minister (or Cabinet for that matter) cannot decide to extend the validity period of any fishing right. That authority is firmly vested with Parliament. The Minister should propose an amendment bill to Parliament (Akin to what was presented by Minister MV Moosa in 2000, which resulted in the adoption of the MLRA Amendment Act of 2000). It is Parliament - and Parliament alone - that can "authorise" a fishing rights extension to 31 December 2021.

Cabinet's "decision" to extend the validity period (And thus the validity of individual fishing rights across 12 commercial fishery sectors) is thus unlawful and invalid and capable of legal review.

Further, this decision is yet another indictment of the extent of the institutional failure that has come to define this government. Government has had 15 years to prepare for this rights allocation process. 15 YEARS. 180 MONTHS. 5475 DAYS. And yet again, it is unprepared. Yet again, we are told of the same government having to fix corrupt processes of its own making. And yet again, it promises to implement credible and corrupt-free processes despite continuing to fail to purge the staff implicated in corruption and maladministration since FRAP 2013.

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