Long-Term Fishing Rights Allocations And The Status of Fish Stocks


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An Update
“Resource constraints, large numbers of applications, shifting resource distribution, low catches with resultant socio-economic realities, became the context within which we
had to apply ourselves as we sought to assert a sustainable use approach to fisheries
management and our allocation system,� said Deputy Director General of the Marine and Coastal Management Branch of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism,
Dr Monde Mayekiso, as he outlined experiences to date on the long-term fishing rights allocations process.

The allocation of long-term fishing rights commenced after extensive public consultations which led to final fishery sector policies’ adoption by Cabinet in May 2005 and June 2005. The public participation process included various community outreach efforts on the part of the department (such as community meetings) where over 9000 fishers in more than 50 villages, towns and cities were consulted.

“More than 8000 applications for long term fishing rights across 20 different fishing sectors have been received raging from highly capital intensive fisheries such as hake deep sea trawl and south coat rock lobster to small scale fisheries such as Netfishing. The number of applications for long-term fishing rights almost doubled in comparison with the amount of applications received during the medium-term fishing rights allocations process in 2001. Of the total long-term fishing rights applications received nearly fifty percent were for west coast rock lobster (near shore),� further explained Mayekiso.

Speaking on resource constraints, Deputy Director-General, Dr Monde Mayekiso said limitations of the total allowable catch (TAC) or the total allowable effort (TAE) place
a limit on the number of right holders that can be accommodated in a way that yields economic viability.

Citing the West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL) fishery sector as an example, Dr Mayekiso indicated that the total commercial TAC for WCRL is 2854 tons, a reduction of 10% from the previous year. Approximately 95% of the reduction has been absorbed by the offshore sector. The TAC for WCRL nearshore is 572 tons. Biologically about 80% of the resource occurs offshore in waters in excess of 40m, whilst about 20% occurs inshore or nearshore at less than 40m depth, explained Dr Mayekiso. “With more than 4000 applications and an appeal from communities to increase individual quantum to make it economically viable, the number of rights that can be allocated becomes limited�.

Noting a shift in resource distribution and lower catches in certain fisheries, Dr Mayekiso highlighted a trend of progressive southward and eastward shift in the distribution of adult sardine from the west coast. “The result is a shift in economic activity from one area to the other. The distance between the catch locality and the processing facilities has increased, which means an increase in transportation costs. This could lead to relocation of factories which already happened in the West Coast Rock Lobster sector where a similar shift in resource distribution resulted in less lobsters landed and processed on the West Coasts, coupled with loss of jobs,� Mayekiso said.

Addressing transformation in the context of the long-term fishing rights allocations process, preliminary results indicate an increased allocation of TAC to black controlled companies (50+1%) in most sectors, according to Dr Mayekiso. In the hake sector Black controlled TAC has increased from 14% in 2001 to 29% in 2005. The black shareholder controlled TAC has increased from 38% to 43%.

In the WCRL sector, the black controlled TAC increased from 51% to 61%, and the
pelagics TAC increased from 64% to 66%.

Explaining the way forward, Dr Mayekiso indicated that the appeals process is envisaged to be completed within the next 3 months. The Minister of Environmental Affairs and
Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk as the appeals authority, will apply himself to all
submitted appeals.