SA puts forward proposal to improve equity in fishing rights

Friday, May 25, 2018

South Africa has drafted and tabled a proposal that aims to ensure that a fair, equitable and transparent system of allocation of fishing opportunities is developed.

South Africa tabled the proposal at the 22nd annual session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) in Bangkok, Thailand. The gathering concludes today.

The proposal is directed at vessel chartering in the IOTC area of competence, with the aim of supporting the long-term sustainability of IOTC species, while ensuring the special requirements of IOTC developing coastal states (DCS), and small island developing states (SIDS) are accommodated. This includes food security and development aspirations to promote opportunities for economic development and development aspirations.

The proposal, however, takes into account the sovereign rights of IOTC coastal states, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The IOTC is responsible for the management of tuna and tuna like-species in the Indian Ocean.

The South African delegation to the IOTC -- led by Deputy Director-General of the department’s branch: Fisheries Management, Siphokazi Ndudane -- champions a newly adopted resolution on vessel chartering at the IOTC meeting.

This is only the third time that the country participates as a full member of the IOTC. South Africa was for a very long time a non-cooperating contracting party member of the IOTC until 3 September 2015, when the South African Parliament approved its accession to the IOTC, thus becoming a cooperating contracting party member of the IOTC.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries noted that the country is quickly making a positive mark with respect to promoting the recognition of the rights and interests of DCS.

“South Africa is playing a pivotal role in leading, along with other DCS and SIDS, such as the Maldives and other members of the group of like-minded coastal states in the Indian Ocean, known as the G16. South Africa is regarded as a leading light and a role model for other developing nations in the Indian Ocean,” the department said.

The department said the proposal was drafted on the basis that neither the collection of IOTC Conservation and Management Measures nor the Basic Texts of the Commission (IOTC Agreement/Rules of Procedure) provided guidance on the management of vessel chartering within the IOTC Area of Competence.

“The proposal aimed to provide clear guidelines on the management of vessel chartering, as well as the attribution of catch and observer coverage. Currently, IOTC attributes all the catch and observer data accrued from vessel chartering to the flag State of the chartered foreign fishing vessel.

“Consequently, this practice, under the current conditions, denies the coastal states, particularly, the DCS, their rights to have a historical catch data in the IOTC Area of Competence,” the department said.

The IOTC is currently developing a system of allocation of fishing rights in the IOTC area of competence, and historical catch data is one of the critical elements to be considered for allocation of fishing rights.

“The proposal on vessel chartering had huge implications not only for South Africa but for other Indian Ocean coastal states and to some degree, the distant fishing water nations operating in the Indian Ocean.

“There was so much depended on this proposal. After much lobbying for co-sponsors and supporters for the proposal, as well as some tough negotiations, involving France on behalf of its territories in the Indian Ocean, and the European Union, the commission adopted the Resolution on Vessel Chartering in the IOTC Area of Competence,” the department said.

South Africa’s tuna allocations at the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has significantly increased, creating much needed permanent jobs in the South African fishing industry. –