SEAFOOD IMPORTERS AND EXPORTERS ASSOCIATION FORMED


On 22 April 2010 the South African Association of Seafood Importers and Exporters (“SAASIE”) was duly formed.  The Association has as its objects the promotion and protection of common interests of members who are commercially involved in the business of importing, exporting or processing of fish products.  One of the main tasks which the Association will be involved with is in dealing with the various Government Departments who are involved in the processing, exporting and importing of fish products and in particular, Marine and Coastal Management, SARS / Customs, the Department of Trade and Industry and NRCS.

The first Chairperson of the Association is Mr Robert Kaye of Kaytrad Commodities (Pty) Ltd.  The Association will play an important role in shaping the future of the import and export of fish from South Africa and interested persons who wish to make application for membership of such Association should contact the Secretary of the Association, Mr Russell Penny on rpenny@blueatlantic.co.za and 021 690 1400.



EAST COAST SQUID GROUNDS UNDER THREAT


The proposed Thyspunt Nuclear Plant has caused much controversy in the Eastern Cape coastal areas of Cape St Francis, St Francis Bay and Oyster Bay particularly in the Squid fishing industry.

The controversy is in respect of the plans by Eskom to build a pressurized water reactor in that area.  A draft Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) has been published which role players in the Squid industry believe is inadequate.  According to newspaper articles, Mr Greg Christie of the South African Squid Management Industry Association stated that due to the superficiality of the report, it has incorrectly assessed the full impacts of the construction and operation of the nuclear plant on the Squid fishery.  Also at issue is the lack of consultation during the EIA process of the Squid Scientific Working Group which has long since been established by Marine and Coastal Management.

One of the main issues is the volume of the sand which is to be pumped from an outflow pipe about 1,5km out to sea.  The concern of the Squid industry is that the sand and sediments pumped out to sea will effectively create an underwater desert with a 5cm to 10cm layer of sludge on the sea bottom which will discolour and stir up every time the swell or serge  currents appears.  The effect of this would be that the areas which are presently favourable for Squid egg attachment will be wiped out between Oyster Bay and Seal Bay.  If this occurs, then more than 30% of the Squid fishing grounds will be affected.

No doubt the Squid industry will continue to engage and challenge Eskom on this issue in order to protect a very important local fishing sector for the area.



SECTION 21 – THE LOG JAM CONTINUES


The latest on Section 21 of the Marine Living Recourses Act is that the Oceana-litigation against the Department to set aside the current Section 21 policy continues but a decision in this matter is not expected this year due to the fact that the matter has not be brought on an urgent basis and apparently the State has only recently furnished the Applicant with its record of the decision.  Oceana will now be entitled to supplement its founding papers whereafter the State will have to file answering papers and thereafter Oceana will be entitled to reply to such answering papers.

In the meantime the department has confirmed that there is no moratorium on the making of decisions for Section 21 applications.  However, no decisions on such applications are currently being made and there are Section 21 applications which have been filed up to three years ago which still have not been dealt with.

Transfers of rights are provided for in terms of Section 21 of the MLRA and there is an obligation on the Minister to make a decision on applications which are submitted to him/her.  The unreasonable delay in taking a decision or the failure to take a decision on these applications could amount to reviewable administrative action in terms of the Promotion of Access to Administrative Justice Act (Section 6).

In the circumstances Transferors and Transferees of Section 21 applications lodged with the Department may have to bring High Court proceedings in order to obtain a decision on their applications.  Currently this appears the only way to break the log jam as the Department has not put forward any plan of action for the expediting of the decisions on these applications.



COMPLIANCE INDABA – 4 JUNE 2010


On the 4th of June 2010, our Compliance Director Alistair Downing, attended a Compliance Indaba hosted by the South African Inshore Fishing Industry Association at the Sea Point Fisheries Research Aquarium. The objective of the Indaba was to discuss the challenges and possible solutions with regards to the illegal harvesting of WCRL.

The delegates were welcomed by Mr George Branch and this was followed by a viewing of a recent episode of FOCUS on poaching that was televised on SABC2. The remainder of the morning session consisted of four short presentations by various role players. These included Serge Raemaekers (UCT Environment Evaluation Unit), Rob Tarr (MCM, Research and stock status), Paul Sieben (SANPARKS) and Suzan Leseke (Chief Director: MCS).

The delegates were thereafter divided into various interest groups, such which included ‘Researchers’, ‘Compliance and resource management, ‘Industry and recreational fishers’ and ‘Artisanal fishers’. The brief to each of these groups was to highlight several problems encountered by the various role players with reference to their particular area of interest. After a very insightful debate by all groups, their respective findings were briefly presented to all the delegates. After the lunch break, the various groups were again constituted, but this time with an overlap of delegates from all the groups, thereby ensuring a certain amount of cross referencing.

These groups then discussed the possible solutions to the problems highlighted in the morning session. Various theories and ideas were postulated to resolve the issues raised, but what was abundantly clear was that for any long term solution to be successful, all parties need to consult with each other on a meaningful basis, such as demonstrated in this Indaba.

The Association aims to prepare a more comprehensive report on the Indaba and all members are encouraged to obtain a copy thereof and implement the relevant solutions raised, so as to ensure the longevity of the WCRL fishery.