The purpose of this media statement issued by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 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 eight weeks be issuing his decisions on appeals in the remaining seven 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 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 five fishing rights in this fishery. Of these five rights, 2 rights were granted authorising trawling in both inshore and offshore waters. The remaining three fishing rights were allocated in offshore waters only. A total of two fishing rights (or vessels) remain available for allocation by the minister.
Zokwana considered and evaluated each of the 17 appeals and has made the decisions listed below. However, before, addressing the substance of his decisions, it is important to note that the Minister is concerned about the number of applicants who had lodged applications in this fishing sector without having nominated access to suitable fishing vessels and without understanding the various significant economic and biological issues affecting this fishery.
The minister accepts that in future his department must communicate more effectively with the South African fishing industry and the wider public about the economic, ecological and biological factors and policies that affect each of our fisheries and what the department expects of prospective right holders in each fishing sector.
He notes that the KZN prawn trawl fishery continues to experience a number of difficulties. Firstly, the inshore prawn fishery has essentially ceased to exist due to many years of recruitment failure caused principally due to the fact that the St Lucia River mouth remains closed.
Secondly, the market for wild caught prawns is very limited due to the rapid growth and availability of much cheaper farmed prawns, which are imported by a majority of prawn consuming markets, including South Africa. As a consequence, the operating environment for right holders in this fishery is extremely difficult.
Having considered the 17 appeals, it became apparent that no less than 13 appellants had failed to demonstrate access to a suitable prawn trawl fishing vessel. In terms of the Policy for the allocation and management of fishing rights in the KwaZulu-Natal Prawn Trawl Fishery: 2013 (GG Notice 36675 of 17 July 2013), every applicant for a right in this fishery is required to demonstrate a right of access to vessel defined as being suitable for prawn trawling. The minister accordingly refused to grant these 13 appellants their respective appeals.
A further two appellants not only failed to demonstrate a right of access to a suitable prawn trawl fishing vessel, but these two appellants had furthermore filed improper applications. In terms of the Prawn Trawl fishing policy, applications could only be properly received from registered close corporations, companies and co-operatives. One appellant had lodged an application as an individual and another filed an application on behalf of a trust. Zokwana refused to grant these 2 appellants their respective appeals.
The only appellant that satisfied the requirements set out in the Prawn Trawl fishing policy is Hacky Fishing (Pty) Ltd. Hacky Fishing (Pty) Ltd is therefore granted a commercial KZN Prawn Trawl fishing right on the MFV Golden Eagle.
However, the minister has noted that there remains 1 unallocated commercial fishing right in this fishery. He believes it economically and socially imprudent for a commercial fishing right to remain unutilized for the next five years. Zokwana has accordingly decided that he will shortly invite prospective applicants in terms of section 18 of the Marine Living Resources Act to apply for this one remaining offshore prawn trawl fishing right. Prospective applicants will be required to demonstrate, inter alia –
Access to a suitable prawn trawl fishing vessel;
Access to the requisite capital and finance to operate a prawn trawl vessel, processing facility (or have access to a facility) and access to suitable markets;
A viable and ecologically sustainable fishing plan and knowledge of the fishery; and
That they are at minimum a certified Level 2 Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment contributor.
Each Appellant will be provided with written notification of the Minister’s decision, as well as a copy of the Regulation 5(3) Appeal Report pertaining to its appeal.