Zokwana engages with captains of fishing industry

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The organised fishing sector and government leadership have been urged to keep open lines of cooperation and communication in order to advance the key objectives of the industry.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana recently met with captains of the fishing industry to discuss strategic matters.

Talks centred on support for the implementation of the Small-Scale Fishing Policy (SSFP), the Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) for 2020, and transformation imperatives within the broader fishing industry.

Zokwana said there was a need for continuous engagement with organised industry, especially captains of the industry, in broadening participation of historically disadvantaged individuals (HDIs) and historically disadvantaged companies (HDCs).

“After 1994 and the advent of democracy, the new government expressed the intent to overhaul the rights allocation system and transform the fishing industry, giving rise to the promulgation of the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA), Act No 18 of 1998, which was to set the broad guidelines on how fisheries were to be managed and transformed. 

“Some gains have been achieved during the rights allocation processes in 2005, 2013 and 2015/16, where the department has sought to improve transparency, independence with rigorously checks and balances to ensure that the objectives of the act are met,” Zokwana said.

The meeting noted transformation achievements measured in terms of black participation and ownership in the sectors, and the need to further deliberate on transformation targets that can be measured and evaluated over time.

The fishing industry noted that many black industrialists have invested significant capital in the years leading up to 2020, and these industrialists wanted to understand how they would be treated in the rights allocation process.

Zokwana said security of tenure and clear policy was a key requirement by industry to support President Cyril Ramaphosa’s drive in job creation and further investment.

The meeting also noted the challenges experienced in the previous rights allocation processes; some of them, including issues of assessment criteria and vessel ownership criteria, unsustainable catching agreements and increase in fishing capacity.

It was highlighted that during the past allocations, transformation criteria was never generally agreed upon, and no targets for transformation had been set by the department in any of the sectors, neither is there a transformation charter for any sector or for the fishing industry as a whole.

Improving safety at sea 

The issue of safety at sea and the general conditions of service of fishing workers were also raised.

Both the industry and the department agreed to work with key partners to ensure that guidelines are strengthened for improving safety at sea and conditions of service of fishing workers, especially minimum requirements for work on board fishing vessels and in fishing establishments.

They agreed that conditions of service like sea getting allowances, accommodation and food, occupational safety and health protection, as well as medical care and social security.

The industry further agreed to work with the department to ensure that the FRAP 2020 process is successful, and will ensure they provide inputs and participate meaningfully in the process.

The Minister indicated that the meeting is just the beginning of continued dialogue, as he intends to engage broader stakeholders in their respective sub-sectors along the fisheries value chain. – SAnews.gov.za