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.