Transformation in the fishing industry: public hearings (day 2)
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries commented on presentations made the previous day. The Department was busy with a performance review. Transformation was a priority. A Fishing Charter was being drafted. Safety and labour relations would be addressed. Fronting was a concern. A policy on small-scale fishers was being compiled. The Department was concerned with poaching which was a serious threat to the stock levels of certain species. Offices of the Department were being decentralised.
Members bemoaned the slow progress on policy documents. Not enough was being done to act against poaching. There were problems with the permit and quota systems. The body of a dead fisherman was still unclaimed. Deaths at sea were of extreme concern and Members felt the need for a separate meeting to address this issue. Other issues to be addressed were safety, fronting, labour relations and working conditions.
Representatives of some of the major companies defended their safety records and employee benefits. It was acknowledged that it was a dangerous environment. Members of community organisations complained about the unfairness of the permit system at present. Communities that had traditionally depended on the sea for survival were denied access to marine resources. Government had made promises which it had failed to keep. Conditions were imposed which made it difficult to obtain permits.
Many presenters felt that scientific data being used to justify restrictions on the harvesting of certain species were incorrect. The restrictions imposed on small scale fishers were driving people to desperation as they were losing their livelihoods and were no longer able to feed their families. Some expressed the view that people were being oppressed by Government. Compensation for lost fishermen was scant. There were some unscrupulous companies.
Some companies were taking steps to foster transformation. The issue of restitution was not being addressed.
Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF). Comments
Mr Thindiwe Dingile, Acting Deputy Director-General: Fisheries Operations Support, Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF), said that the DAFF had learned much the previous day. The DAFF was conducting a performance review of the industry. This would not be a review of rights but would provide the information therefore. Reports had been compiled for each sector. In terms of the rights allocations, there was a dominance in the Western Cape. Rights were allocated according to the resource, not provincial boundaries. This might change after a policy review. The current policy emphasised transformation rather then redistribution.
Mr Dingile looked at transformation issues. When the rights were last allocated, Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) codes were not in existence. Emphasis was placed on ownership and management control. Business principles were not conducive to small scale fishers being given rights. Many had applied in 2005 but there were no allocations. Fishers were neglected. Transformation included economic activity in other parts of the value chain. The DAFF intended to lend its support.
Mr Dingile said that a Fisheries Charter was being drafted. Fronting was a major issue, and cases in St Helena Bay and Jeffreys Bay were being investigated. DAFF could invoke Section 28 of the Marine Resources Act (MRA). Rights could be revoked. The percentage of black ownership had improved since 2001. He provided a comprehensive list of companies with more than 50% black ownership. In terms of small-scale fisheries, there were positive figures. Data had not being collected in some sectors.
Mr Dingile had heard a lot about poaching. Environmental crimes were increasing in the country. The same trend was occurring in the fishing industry. An integrated strategy was being proposed including the South African Police Service (SAPS), South African National Defence Force (SANDF), South African Revenue Service (SARS), South African National (SAN) Parks, CapeNature, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD) and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). This had been submitted to Cabinet and would give DAFF the resources it needed. The Department was conducting joint operations.
Mr Dingile said that the small-scale fisheries policy was at an advanced stage of development. This would look particularly at the plight of small-scale fishers who had been excluded from fishing rights. Communities would be encouraged to organise themselves into legal entities. The policy would be implemented from 2012. Finances should be in place in the new financial year (FY). Sectoral splits would be adjusted. The interim relief dispensation would have to continue until the policy was implemented. The policy allowed for multi-species permits. Gender transformation would be emphasised, and particular programmes would be put in place. Infrastructure development was being put in place in conjunction with the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
Mr Dingile said that decentralisation of fisheries services would continue. Offices would be established in local communities. Infrastructure was being rolled out. Offices would be opened in Saldanha Bay and Port Elizabeth. Mobile facilities would still be used. A Fisheries Development Worker Programme had been initiated. 22 posts had been advertised. This would improve the visibility of DAFF.
Mr Dingile said that permit conditions would be revised to include good labour and safety issues. A social security programme would be developed. An Industry Compensation Fund would be established as well as a Sea Accident Fund.
Mr Dingile said that policies on the transfer of rights had been developed. DAFF considered this policy necessary. However, changes would be considered if necessary.
Mr Dingile said that there were not enough resources to satisfy all demands for fisheries. West Coast rock lobster was down to 3% of original stocks while 20% was considered a safe limit. The creature grew slowly, taking seven years to grow to the legal size. This affected the total allowable catch (TAC). The inshore season was limited by the presence of females with eggs. There was no allocation for poaching.
The Chairperson felt that fisheries should be seen as one sector of the economy. As a policy maker he should not have to deal with the detail such as different species. He was interested in benchmarking the Fisheries Charter against charters in the Agricultural and Forestry industry. He felt that the benchmarking should rather be against similar arrangements that were already working.
Ms M Pilusa-Mosoane (ANC) had a doubt from the report that had been presented. The DAFF was responding in a certain way because of the questions asked the previous day. Members had heard about this Charter for some time, but the DAFF was still working on it. Another issue was the lack of collection of statistics on black ownership in KwaZulu-Natal. One of the problems was the number of acting positions. She asked when the advertised posts would be filled.
Mr N du Toit (DA) felt that anti-poaching measures focused on catching the perpetrators after the act. Once the fish were taken out of the water they were doomed. Measures should rather be proactive. He asked what the TAC was for abalone as reports suggested 2 000 tons were being poached. He felt that the DAFF might be generating income from selling confiscated catches. The DAFF might as well strip all the resources from the sea if this was the case. He asked how it had been determined that military veterans would be appropriate to combat poaching. One of the senior officials at the DAFF also represented military veterans in another forum. Another concern was fronting. What had happened in the past, and could happen again, was that someone was granted a permit but was unable to exploit this permit, and so sold the rights on to a third party. If Government was serious about combating fronting then more thought was needed. He was glad to see labour and safety issues being addressed. He asked how fast this could be done. He asked why inspectors had not been despatched in the past. He asked if there had been a programme in the past, or had not realised that the problem existed. The focus of this round of hearings was on transformation. Members had heard of progress being made by the bigger players in the industry. They had heard of a lack of leadership and the trauma suffered by fishers. If transformation was to happen there had to be some economic gain. The country and its citizens had to benefit.
Mr Dingile said that the purpose of decentralisation was to make it easier for fishers to negotiate rights. Some species would be extinct by 2013. Allocations had been made, but on the other hand one had to look ahead to the availability of resources by 2020. The definition of “black” had to be clear as understood by Oceana Fisheries and Sea Harvest. Share schemes were in place but workers never saw any benefit. Matters were complicated when they left the company. Conditions were imposed which many did not meet.
Mr S Abram (ANC) said that the Committee must not lose sight of what the hearing was about. Side issues would always arise. He hoped that Members would be given a copy of this presentation. What worried him was that the DAFF was not expressing itself unequivocally on issues. He had never heard of an allocation for poaching. Poachers were thieves. If this was the standard it was extremely worrisome. DAFF was saying it faced many challenges, including the lack of capacity for various necessary activities. The strategy and action plan would address these challenges. The DAFF had been established in May 2009. Two years later Members were still being told that challenges would be tackled. In the private sector time lines were put to the plans. An action plan was needed. Allegations had been made of wrongdoing. He asked if the DAFF had any responses. Allegations had been made that the industry was being destroyed. Thousands of people would suffer. It was not possible to replace what was destroyed. The industry played a role in job creation. There were many sides to every argument. He would like to hear the responses from the industry. Serious engagement was needed from Parliament. The help of other Committees was needed. In one of the presentations, a situation had been reported from the Northern Cape where some people had been financed by the former Coloured Development Corporation, and this business had been a success. However, of late they had not been able to obtain permits. The DAFF must explain how the investments of the past could be allowed to go to waste. There would be a cumulative effect where many people would struggle. This could not justified unless there were sound and reasonable explanations.
Mr Dingile said that there was opposition to the transfer of rights. Many had to give their rights away due to lack of finance and equipment. Transferring of rights was not in the economic favour of the disadvantaged.
Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC), Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Labour, had not heard all the presentations the previous day. He had heard that military veterans would be deployed in poaching hot spots. These were people who had served in the military, both in the SANDF and the liberation armies. Government funded the veterans' organisation. Many people were linked to veterans, particularly whites who had been subject to conscription. Protection was needed. The resources were the heritage of the people.. The industry was big business and employed many people. The only disturbing thing was the brutal murders of some people. He was disturbed that this had not been major news. There were two commissions under the Department of Labour. One dealt with compensation for work-related injuries and the other for illness. These funds could assist the families of fishers. Workers rights were human rights. He was disgusted. He would boycott the products of the companies responsible.
Mr Dingile said that the body of the dead fisherman, Mr Mokoena, was still in the morgue. This was the reality of the life of a fisherman. By rights the company that was guilty of such a crime should be discredited. Many fishers died at sea. The perception was that this was normal. These people were bringing in food for the country. The DAFF would take the issue up. It could not be condoned. Contempt was deserved. The loss of life was not attended to. One death was one too many. Farm murders hit the headlines, but nothing was mentioned about the deaths of fishermen. This must not happen. He wondered if there was any monitoring of crewmen not coming back from fishing trips. He asked if there was any registration of crew. If not it made it easier for fishers to disappear.
Comments by Oceana Group
Mr Francois Kuttel, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Oceana Group, said that fact needed to be separated from emotion. There were many emotional issues. Three areas had been discussed: safety at sea, resource allocation and transformation. Firstly, death at sea should not be the norm. It was a dangerous industry. His family had suffered deaths at sea. The South African Maritime Safety Association (SAMSA) fell under the Department of Transport (DoT). Boats had to be inspected annually. Crews needed to be licensed. An inquest should be held for every death to investigate and apportion blame if appropriate. Operators of unsafe vessels should be held accountable. The father of a lady who had died on an Oceana vessel had in fact died of a heart attack, not an injury. This had happened 34 years previously. Oceana had not suffered a death at sea on any of its vessels for ten years. It complied with all regulations and had a good track record. All workers qualified in terms of the Workman's Compensation Fund. All Oceana employees were covered by a provident fund, and their families would be paid six times the person's annual salary in the event of death.
Mr Kuttel said that the law provided for a crew list to be retained on shore when a vessel sailed. He knew that marine resources were finite, and Oceana had sympathy for DAFF. There was infinite demand for a finite resource. DAFF had to allocate to those who deserved it. He welcomed the pending publication of the performance review. If organisations had not complied with the conditions of their rights award action should be taken against the culprits. Ms Poggenpoel had commented on retrenchments. In 2005 Oceana had 63 tons of pilchard allocation. This was now down to a fifth, but Oceana had managed not to reduce staff on a pro rata basis. If it still had the original quota it would have been able to double the number of jobs at the St Helena Bay factory. The allegation that this factory only worked on a three month basis was false. The Oceana factory was in production from February to December, as was the case with their other factories..
Mr Kuttel agreed that there were not enough fish in the sea to satisfy all the demands. Other adjustments were needed to the industry. Fragmentation would destroy jobs. The entire Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) code should be used, not just certain aspects. The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) scorecard was comprehensive and transparent, and would end fronting. A narrow view of transformation was incorrect. Share locking was related to all the assets of a company, long before they were given. Shares were sold to employees. Oceana had made R218 million available to subsidise the sale of shares to its employees. No security was needed for these loans. The loans had been repaid through dividends, and the first pay out to employees was in May 2011. There had been a lock-in clause. This was normal business practice. Those that resigned from the company would be paid out at the end of the period in 2017. This would only not happen for dismissed workers and if Ocean failed to maintain its performance. Quota allocations might affect this.
Mr Kuttel said that Oceana's definition of “black” was in accordance with the BEE legislation, namely anyone defined as previously disadvantaged by the Act. Oceana was not the demon company portrayed by some of the presenters. It employed over 2 700 people and provided food for the country and Africa at large.
Comments by Benguela Fishers
Ms Veronica Mngomezulu, Benguela Fishers Hout Bay, thanked the Committee for the chance to respond. Many people were employed by Oceana, but the amount of poaching had increased. She asked if the amount of fish involved was monitored. Fish were not allowed to grow to maturity. Young fish were killed. Poaching was also happening in Paternoster. People who had died at sea were not honoured. She had not heard how human rights would be protected. Her husband worked for a foreign company. He had not been paid what was promised to him, and had not been compensated for an injury sustained at sea. Many fishermen were affected. She had not heard of any proposals in this regard. Nothing had been heard about what was being done for the community. Traditional leaders used people to get quotas but were giving nothing back to the community. Women had been oppressed for a long time. It was time for them to get what was good for them like any other citizen. Something had to be done now. There was money in the country, as evidenced by the 2010 World Cup. There was no shortage of luxuries, but people were still poor. In other sectors of the economy there was provision for compensation and retirement benefits.
The Chairperson said that the issues raised by Mr Kuttel were highly emotive. People had suffered tremendously. It was not possible to avoid emotions. No dialogue would be allowed at this meeting.
Comments by Sea Harvest
Mr George Bezuidenhout, Managing Director, Sea Harvest, had noted issues from the previous day. Deep sea should be separated from other sectors due to the heavy capital involvement required. The emphasis should be on transformation through shareholding rather than rights allocations. 83% of shareholders were defined as black. This figure had been independently verified. Sea Harvest would welcome an audit. He concurred with Mr Kuttel. He was not aware of any deaths at sea on his company's vessels. Full disability, death and funeral benefits were available. The death benefit was the same as that of Oceana. Sea Harvest complied with all labour legislation. When Brimstone acquired its controlling interest in Sea Harvest in 2008, there had been unconditional approval by the Competition Commission and Tribunal. There were widely divergent sectors in question. He agreed that there were not enough fish in the sea to satisfy everybody. If the Sea Harvest quota was halved it would lead to job losses. The challenge was to create jobs in other industries.
Ms Michelle Yon, a community worker from Hout Bay, was happy that there would be an in depth investigation. Her problem was with Sea Fisheries. Nothing had been said about the two months interim relief that had been granted. She asked why fishers always had to come and fight for their rights. Solutions could only be found at Parliament. It was a sore point that some 'white giants' had been left in some coastal communities. Oceana, Sea Harvest and Government never spoke with the people on the ground. Sea Fisheries would have to pull their socks up. The Minister and President had said the communities could fish until June. This was perhaps just a political gambit. The fishing communities should not be treated as fools. The same strategy used in housing could be used in fishing. The communities could take all their boats to sea and catch as much as they could. Promises were made but not kept.
Mr Abram translated for the Committee.
Comments by Pioneer Fishing
Mr Gert du Plessis, Commercial Manager, Pioneer Fishing, said there were strict existing regulations. Safety inspections were conducted by SAMSA and there were regulations regarding crews. Some companies were not registered. There was a standard accident cover. Policing was needed.
The Chairperson said that the theories were fine, but there was a real situation that someone had died and there was no benefit. The owner of the boat disowned the deceased. He had a list of people who had been injured at sea. A Mr Zungu, an employee of World Blue, had lost an eye in 2009. Mr Jacob Mokoena had died recently. He wanted the companies to respond but without naming and shaming. He accepted that companies were acting responsibly. There had been a call in April for fishing companies to release their crews to vote in the local government election. The same companies that pleaded for assistance from Government had not responded. Boat owners were arrogant and felt that business was more important than the human rights of their crews. They did not care. Profit was of primary importance. Not all could be painted with the same brush, he did recognise. Mr Gladstone Makozi, had lost a leg in an injury on a Sea Harvest vessel in 1975. To date there had been no resolution to his injury.
Ms Cindy Hess, Financial Director, Sea Harvest, said that she would investigate the claim made by Mr Makozi and revert to the Committee.
Mr Abram was often reading reports on abalone and other poachers who had been caught. He asked if anyone in the room could explain the level of poaching and if there were syndicates or if the poaching was being done from hunger. Not even the DAFF could answer this question. Serious attention was needed. The reasons had to be understood. The DAFF said that fronting was recognised as a major issue. Some investigations were under way, but in other cases the DAFF expected the workers to put their jobs in jeopardy by bringing evidence to DAFF. Constant surveillance was needed. That was the only way. The DAFF said it had an anti-poaching strategy. He asked what this was, and if the community had bought into it. He had read in the newspaper that the employees and role players had never had an organised meeting with DAFF. He asked how the cooperation and support of the entire sector could be expected in the absence of such meetings. He wanted to make informed decisions.
Ms N Phaliso (ANC) said that the report made by Oceana was not true. She declined to go into detail at this meeting. SAMSA was not present. The companies could not speak on behalf of SAMSA. The Committee had to get clarity on whether Department of Labour (DoL) inspectors were visiting the vessels. She asked who monitored the vessels on departure. She could confirm that vessels returned to port with different crew members. She grew up in a coastal community and spoke from experience. She asked why there had been a two month extension for interim relief, but not implemented. An in-depth investigation was needed. The Hawks should be called in. It was a dirty industry. Job creation should not be at the cost of human life. The Chairperson should take the responsibility for leading the discussion in camera. Intervention was needed. There were enough resources. The scientists of the DAFF were not correct. Tons of abalone were being caught in the waters of Saudi Arabia that originated from Hermanus. The statistics of the DAFF were incorrect. Steenbras could not be caught because this species was not listed in the DAFF figures. Fishermen knew the sea.
Mr Du Toit was disappointed in the answers given by the DAFF. The companies had answered the questions put to them. The focus was on catching poachers after the deed. He asked what the strategy was. Monitoring and control at the DAFF seemed to be in disarray. He felt that the Department could not fulfil this function. He was loath to repeat himself but needed some answers. He asked how small-scale fishers could be assisted. He asked how the plan could be funded. People wanted individual rights rather than cooperatives. He agreed with this view. His questions on the abalone TAC and the tonnage poached had not been answered. He asked if the charter process had started yet, and what the cost would be. He asked if consultants would be used, and if the consultants would be the same that wrote the small-scale policy. There were serious shortcomings with this. He asked what the current policy had cost, and what the charter would cost. He wanted to know how costs were broken up, whether on an hourly rate or annual rate. It seemed the DAFF was lacking the skills to do the work itself. In many cases people left the DAFF and came back as consultants.
Ms Pilusa-Mosoane said that the DAFF would have to come back again and again on the question of quotas. A timeous briefing on the policy was needed.
The Chairperson was tempted, given the seriousness of fronting, to call for an amnesty for all on the wrong side to come clean. Such companies should be given time to correct their current wrong practices. There was a man in the public gallery who, on paper, was earning R84 000 a month. The Tomrea company and Kalahari Fisheries at St Helena Bay were the worst of many instances. In the case of the latter, they had submitted fraudulent tax clearance for three successive FYs. It could not be a case of business as usual. The Committee would strive to correct the practices of the industry by the end of the current term of Parliament in 2014. People had been suffering for a long time.
Ms Nomathemba Sotomela, a fisherwomen from Benguela Fisheries, asked for an investigation into the blue certificates. Community leaders were given fishing rights but knew nothing about the fishing industry.
Response from DAFF
Mr Dingile said that safety in the industry was a problem. Information should come to light. Statistics should be provided. The DAFF would follow up on all cases. SAMSA also had to be active. A holistic picture was needed of the state of transformation. The DAFF needed to track performance. Data was collected from all sectors of the fishing industry and there was a need for the DAFF to aggregate the information. The DAFF had not yet engaged with the industry on the charter. Once this was done then consultants would be appointed. One of the issues was the drafting of an anti-poaching strategy. The document presented to this meeting concentrated on the issues raised during the presentations made the previous day. The DAFF did have detailed information on the economic position of the industry. They also had information on aquaculture.
Ms Morongoa Sezen Lesele, Chief Director (CD): Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS), DAFF, said that monitoring and surveillance had been entrusted to a Directorate of the DAFF. There were 33 stations on the South African coast with approximately 250 staff members. South Africa was responsible for a million square kilometres of ocean, including the waters around Prince Edward and Marion Islands. The South African coastline was 3 200 kilometres long. Poaching was increasing just like crime in general. It was a global phenomenon. South Africa was part of many international organisations regulating fishing, and the extent of poaching worldwide was escalating. South Africa was also part of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) task team on poaching.
Ms Lesele said that the main purpose of the Directorate was to be proactive. It attempted to maintain a 24 hour visibility on a daily basis and to act as a deterrent to poachers. They did not want to have to wait until poachers had harvested the fish. The fish should stay in the water. The emphasis was on prevention. The DAFF wanted to pool its resources with the SAPS, NPA, South African National Parks (SANParks), CapeNature, South African Navy, DoJ&CD and others. The SAPS were responsible for borderline policing. The could act as a force multiplier.
Ms Lesele said that poachers in South Africa were adopting a new style. They were very organised and violent. Agents of the DAFF had been subjected to petrol bomb attacks. She had been on board a patrol vessel that had come under fire. Poaching was often a communal activity. Even if the DAFF was unable to prevent poached fish leaving the country it would follow the poachers. A container of confiscated abalone had recently been returned from Hong Kong, and a third container was expected to be landed in Cape Town later that week.
Ms Lesele said that the MCS Directorate was now stable. Hands-on management was practised. The international norm was that there should be an inspector for each 5 km of coastline. South Africa was far short of that standard. Some stations only had two officers. If one was on leave, it was not possible for the remaining single officer to stand against a whole community. The DAFF sales of confiscated abalone were in accordance with the MRA. The solution to poaching was now beyond merely policing the law. Coastal communities were desperate as the sea was their sole source of income.
Dr Johann Augustyn, CD: Marine Resource Management (MRM), DAFF, said it was not true that DAFF had allocated part of the TAC for poaching. However, the amount of poaching had to be taken into account. The DAFF had to consider growth rates and estimates of the amount of poaching. The DAFF had to determine the population level. Estimates were not accurate. The effectiveness of policing was also a factor, but no-one had a better estimate of the levels of poaching. The approximate estimate of poaching was 100 tons per annum. This was against a TAC of 150 tons. The DAFF had to know how much stock was accumulating. Poaching was depleting resources to the extent that the TAC would have to be lowered. It took eleven years for abalone to grow to a size where it could be legally caught.
Dr Augustyn said that the numbers varied for each species. Another measure was the Total Allowable Effort (TAE) level, which was determined as the number of boats and fishermen that could be used to exploit a resource, such as line fishing. There were not enough scientists to research all the species. Catch data showed that there was a low level of stock of red steenbras. Data was collected from 22 sectors from ship surveys and fishing data. It was not a perfect process. It was not just the DAFF involved, but included other working groups.
Dr Augustyn said that South Africa was subject to peer review from international experts. It was a rigorous process. The stocks of rock lobster had been rebuilt. This was addressed in the strategic plan. He emphasised that poaching was a serious matter.
Dr Augustyn said that the DAFF had a fund to assist emerging farmers. The same type of fund could be used for small scale fishers. It would not be possible to establish such a fund in the current FY. A request could be put forward, but there would be a problem if it was declined. There was a lot of support for cooperative schemes. Those that had been established in the past had not been supported by Government, but management and training would be provided to enable the communities to make their own arrangements. The policy had to be debated.
Dr Augustyn said that consultants had not been used for the Fishing Charter. There was a branch of DAFF that would do this. Information from the performance review would be used to inform the setting of targets. The costs still had to be determined, and the process could take up to three years. DAFF had made use of consultants from Enact in the past. He did not know at what stage consultants would become involved. It was a complex process and would generate huge amounts of paperwork. Policy changes would be discussed with the Committee. The principles would be presented. There had been negotiations with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).
Dr Augustyn said that his Directorate had a small staff of 63, of whom ten were managers. They had few staff to go out and address the issues. This created the need for consultants. The DAFF could not abandon the fishing industry. The DAFF had tried to identify the real fishers. It had identified community leaders. The subsistence fishers on the east coast also had to be considered. This community numbered 30 000. There were not new rights in question. Adjustments might be made to the split between sectors. The procedure was specified in the Act. Many issues needed to be investigated, such as the Blue Certificate.
The Chairperson said that a great deal of work had been covered. Some issues needed immediate attention. The Committee would investigate the cause of the death of Mr Mokoena, after which the law would follow its course. This person needed a decent burial. The Committee was following up and would alter its programme if necessary.
Presentation by Masifundise
Mr Naseegh Jaffel, Director, Masifundise, said that the entire fishing industry was in crisis. The small-scale fishers policy would not address the problems. He feared that the policy would not get finished. There were aspects that could not be implemented due to their long term nature. The policy should be finalised urgently. He did not want to be surviving on interim relief any more. The interim relief plan had been meant for one year, but it was on the verge of going into its sixth year. The relief could only end if the policy was finalised, but he had his doubts.
Mr Jaffel said the target date for the strategic plan was 2012, but the deadlines kept shifting. Nedlac had met in the first two weeks of June, but nothing had happened. Debate was needed at national level and not just in the Western Cape. Wider coverage was needed in the Northern Cape, the West Coast, East Coast, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Durban areas. There was nothing in these areas. Questions were being raised on the key ingredients for the plan.
Mr Jaffel disputed the contention that people preferred individual rights to communal rights. The current situation was that quotas were granted to individuals. This was not working. It was acceptable for deep sea operations. The South African Commercial Fishing Corporation (SACFC) had been called a cooperative but had been funded on a different basis. The BEE Act promoted cooperatives but this conflicted with long term policy. If transformation was to happen then the BEE Act had to be followed. He felt that collective communal rights was the way to go.
Mr Jaffel asked if the fishers had been identified and how many there were. Groups had been left out of the rights allocations despite applying. He was not saying that the policy had to be reopened. There was a list of marginalised people who were dependent on the fishing industry. The small scale policy did not fit the needs of the community. There was a developmental nature but it had to be shown how it would benefit the community.
Presentation by Mr C Jordaan
Mr C Jordaan, member of the Small-Scale Fisheries Task Team, was not fully prepared for the meeting. However, he said that two day would not be long enough to present all the problems in the community. His area of interest was from Mossel Bay to the mouth of the Kei River. He was on the small-scale fisheries task team. The Minister had made promises to the community but the fishing sector was not receiving the attention it deserved. There was a need for direct consultation. Fishing stock was under pressure and the country was importing more than it could export. Aquaculture was contributing to the gross domestic product (GDP) to the tune of R100 million. Abalone and other species were being cultivated.
Mr Jordaan said that none of the promises had been kept. A summit had been held, which had democratically elected the task team. He had to pay his own expenses to get to and from the airport when he needed to attend meetings although the cost of the flights was covered. There had been two agreements with Marine and Coastal Management (MCM). However, these had not been signed. The second draft had been even worse than the first one.
Mr Jordaan said that the interim relief measures had increased the limit from thirty to sixty fish per person. However, the permits were useless and meant nothing to the subsistence fishers. They were only allowed to take ten fish on a day, not all of which could be of the same species. He proposed a way forward. The new harbour at Coega was a fish magnet. Dozens of species were there in abundance. He was in favour of aquaculture. His community had been told they could have a quota of 1.5 tons of abalone for the season, while the poachers took that much in a week.
The Chairperson was hearing more and more talk about fish stocks. Some of the presenters were saying that fish were still plentiful. The aquaculture experiment with abalone was interesting. There were seven zones in the Eastern Cape. If each zone was restricted to 1.5 tones of abalone, that equated to a total of 10.5 tons per annum for the entire province. This was neither economical nor sustainable. In one community at Hangberg, 130 beneficiaries would have to share the 1.5 ton quota for the zone. The benefit would be only R300 per person for the year.
Presentation by Artisanal Fishers Association
Mr Andrew Johnston, Artisanal Fishers Association (AFA), had been a fisherman for fifty years, thirty of which would be classified as a poacher. He had served on several national and international body. He was currently the chair of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Fishing Desk. In the past supporters of the former Tri-Cameral Parliament had been given the rights while the ANC supports had got nothing. He was writing a book about his experiences.
Mr Johnston said that the principles of the small-scale polity were to focus on food security, equity, job creation, poverty alleviation, co-management and social justice. While poor fisher folk may be given rights, the critics of the policy were waiting to prey on these people in order to take over their rights. Such people were not interested in correcting social and economic injustices. The management of fisheries should be about the people and their livelihoods as well as about economics and resource management. The first divers came from Langa, but this form of fishing had become the preserve of those in the wealthy suburbs.
Mr Johnston quoted from an article published by the Alternative Information and Development Centre. The quota system was coupled to high capital demands. The limited rights that poor people could exploit did not cover basic living expenses. Households had to juggle expenses to survive, especially in the light of increasing food prices. Before quotas, artisanal and traditional fishing households had enough money for food and other requirements but were now being forced to beg to survive. Bad governance and faulty practices were creating elites at the expense of the poor.
Mr Johnston said that sociopaths were those that had no sympathy for their fellow men. The whole fishing industry acted in this way. The quota system had been introduced by the apartheid government. People controlling resources were only interested in money. Community rights needed to be promoted. Policing would not solve the problems of the industry. The support of the community was needed.
Mr Johnston said that policy should promote socio-economic needs of the disadvantaged communities, enhance access to the sea and provide a sustainable livelihood. It should promote social inclusiveness, eliminate inherited inequalities and recognise fishers as workers. There should be participatory democratic systems, environmental and resource protection. The policy should enhance food security, alleviate poverty and hunger and develop the communities away from profit-making individualism. The policy should improve access to markets, terminate corrupt practices, be gender sensitive and create large-scale employment.
Mr Johnston said that the community-based management system was widely accepted. The proponents of the individual quota system had to end the corrupt practices of which they were guilty. It was absurd to believe that individual wealth could eradicate the ills of society. Community fishing rights would go towards achieving the Millennium Development goals. There were many socio-economic benefits from communal efforts. Peer monitoring would be an important method of controlling the exploitation of communal rights. Indigenous knowledge of fish patterns would be an important way of monitoring stock levels. Those who had benefited in the past were lacking the vision and will to correct the situation. What was needed was restitution, restructuring, reviewing and reallocating. The policy made no mention of restitution. He could not understand how men working on an oil rig could get an abalone quote while the residents of Kleinmond could not.
Presentation by Women in Fishing, Port Nolloth
Ms Gloria Beukes, Women in Fishing, Port Nolloth, said that the women in Port Nolloth were living in atrocious conditions. There had been different quota holders owning the factory in Port Nolloth such as Sekunjola and later Oceana. She had attended the summit held in Stellenbosch in 2010 where she had told the Minister that the women were being left out. The condition for the issue of a permit was that the permit holder must go to sea to qualify. She had worked in the factory for 35 years. She had been retrenched in 2001 when the factory closed. She had applied for a quota but was unsuccessful. Her plea to the Committee was that they should look at the clause excluding women from the system. Most of the community were women at home with the children while the men were at sea.
Ms Beukes said that she had been a supervisor in the factory. She knew the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) standards for the canning of fish products. She knew the business. Old people could not go to sea, but they and the women could run the business if they had the processing and marketing permits. Other factories in which she had worked belonged to John Overstone and Namaqua Fisheries. The factories had closed and the quotas had gone with them.
Presentation by Mr G Roberts
Mr G Roberts was a former chairperson of the AFA. He said that some important points had been made. Big business wanted to destroy the small-scale fishers. Small-scale and subsistence fishers were treated like criminals. He did not understand the objectives of the policy. Quotas for hake had divided the community. Money had gone missing in the Coega area. There was no proper guidance. A dead fisherman was still in the morgue.
Mr Roberts said that some companies would pick up men on the road and use them as crew on fishing boats. They were housed in compounds. The companies did not even know what their names were. The Eastern Cape had the most accidents at sea. Over 50 fishermen were missing. The reports compiled by SAMSA had to be tested.
Mr Roberts could prove that the scientists were wrong with the TAC. The people needed to have their human rights respected. Slavery had been abolished, but there had been no changes since 1994. Justice was needed. Illiterate people had been made to sign documents they did not understand. He had written to the Minister but everything went around in circles. People were only allowed to use the President's hotline if they had first hand experience of the issue they were reporting, but this system could work. Emotions were running high. The great white shark was a dangerous creature, but not as dangerous as some of the two-footed sharks present in the meeting.
Presentation by Durban Subsistence Fishers
Mr Ebrahim Yusuf, Durban Subsistence Fishers, was also a member of the national task team. He had been denied an existence during the apartheid era. The situation was worse now. The promised restoration of rights had not happened. Government was failing in its duties. Subsistence fishers were being denied physical and financial access to resources. Fishing from the rocks was the most sustainable form of the industry but even this was being denied. He could not believe that a man with a fishing rod could deplete the stocks. South African subsistence fishers faced the most stringent limits in the world.
Mr Yusuf said that he and his colleagues bought recreational permits but were limited to four fish per day. This was a starvation allocation. Transnet was denying fishermen access to their traditional spots in the harbour. The Anti-Terrorism Act was cited as the reason for the lack of access. Huge fences had been erected. The traditional pathways were closed and fishermen had to make detours of up to three kilometres to reach their favourite spots. There was a similar situation in the Eastern Cape where a casino had blocked off traditional access routes. This was being done in accordance with the National Key Points Act.
Mr Yusuf said there was no justification to the arguments of the scientists. No commercial harvesting was being allowed. A report was needed. There was no regional office of the DAFF in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Chairperson noted that the DAFF was applying a policy of decentralisation. Appointments should be made to cover the regions by 2013. If environmental laws did not speak to the sustainability of resources they would not be relevant. People had to survive. Some protected areas were necessary, but scientists were not advancing the cause of the people. He asked if the scientists were out to destroy or advance the country.
Presentation by Coastal Links Paternoster
Ms Naomi Cloete, Chairperson, Coastal Links Paternoster, said that no compensation was paid to women who lost their husbands. Women played many back-up roles to the industry, such as net-making. She was also a member of the task team. People had a traditional right to the sea. People should have rights and not quotas. She reminded the Members of the old basket system, where a person could take as many fish of various species that could be carried in a basket. The industry had to be seen from a woman's perspective. The scientists were making criminals of the fisher folk. Research needed to be conducted in the communities.
Presentation by Coastal Links Langebaan
Mr Norton Dowries, Vice Chairperson, Coastal Links Langebaan, said that Langebaan was a town where the net was traditionally used. Some of the areas had been declared protected and this was where the fish were to be found. Various conditions were applicable in the different zones. The fishermen would respect the source if they were given access to the protected areas. The by catch of the net fishermen was forbidden to them at present. If anything was caught which was not part of the permit conditions, the fishermen were supposed to report this to MCM. Their officials would then take the by catch away. He pleaded that fishermen be allowed to retain the by catch.
Presentation by Xhanti Lomzi Fishing
Mr Elliot Fisa, Director, Xhanti Lomzi Fishing, speaking in isiXhosa, told the Committee that Xhanti Lomzi Fishing had bought fish for R1.4 million. They had not applied for a permit and it had been taken away. He criticised former Ministers, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, whom he described as 'a racist', and Pallo Jordan. The current Minister was supporting the capitalists. Only foreigners were being employed. His company was trying to pay off its debt. A white man claiming to belong to the ANC had offered help. People needed assistance.
Presentation by Talhodo Fishing
Mr Lizo Mbiko, Human Resources, Talhodo Fishing, said that serious issues had been raised at the hearings the previous day. He was particularly concerned with the squid sector in Port Elizabeth. In 1993 his company had applied for a hake quota and had been given a 1 000 ton quota. In their application they had made a commitment to buy a processing plant and a boat. They had indeed bought the plant, but had found it impossible to run a vessel on such a small quota. They needed to catch a minimum of 3 000 tons to make the running costs of the boat viable. In 2004 they sold their rights and bought shares in Talhodo Fishing. The company had a 38% empowerment element.
Mr Mbiko said that Talhodo had seen the need to open a training academy. The company was helping to finance the academy until it became self-sustaining. They wanted to help the community and had chosen the community of St Francis Bay. They had opened a child have to care for pre-school children. At the strategic meeting he had been tasked to help black people. The first thing was to conduct a needs analysis.
Mr Mbiko said that at the time, there had been only three black officers amongst the 33 employed by the company. It was easy to bring in outsiders, but Talhodo preferred to go the route of internal development. An assessment had been made if people could move up to officer level. Language was a challenge. Candidates had been put through an adult basic education and training (ABET) programme. The result of this programme was that there were now officers from Grade 2 to upper levels but not yet any skippers.
Mr Mbiko said that they were trying to address the needs. He was not representing the industry but spoke on behalf of his own community. Skippers were not trained to act as managers. Talhodo had applied to send some of their skippers on a Labour Relations Act course. This had been completed successfully in 2009. The training had cost R250 000. Minimum conditions of employment agreements had been drafted and policies put in place for dispute resolution and remuneration. The company took out life assurance for all its fishermen. There was a provident fund in place as well. Employees were entitled to sick leave and income security schemes.
Mr Mbiko said that if rights were transferred then the holder had to sell the quota. Rights holders should enjoy the benefits while still alive.
The Chairperson noted that fishermen worked long hours at sea.
Presentation by African Fisheries Association
Mr Sandi Mbali was from Khayalitsha and represented the African Fisheries Association (AFSA). The needs of the black community were not being catered for. A company had asked for identity documents in order to open a BEE company. People from Khayalitsha had been coached and received permits. They had a quota to catch eight crates of crayfish a month. The permits had been taken away. Capitalists went in big numbers to catch crayfish at St Helena Bay.
Mr Mbali said that the current Minister said that a team of four men would assist the community, but this had not happened. He had been in the business since 1970 despite leaving school in Standard 2. Six women had been drowned in a boating accident at Hout Bay.
Mr Mbali said that black people did have the expertise in the fishing industry but were being oppressed by Government.
The Chairperson said it was clear that a separate hearing was needed on deaths at sea. He stressed that the Committee would take action and not just be a talk shop.
Presentation by Mr Suleiman Achmad
Mr Suleiman Achmad, a boat owner, entertained the Committee with his story of a life spent in close proximity to the sea. He showed Members several photographs. He felt that scientists were ruining things.
The Chairperson interrupted Mr Achmad. The President was addressing the National Assembly and Members had to leave. The DAFF had been taking notes and a follow-up meeting would be arranged. Particular areas of concern were conditions of employment, fronting and labour relations. Members would attend the funeral of Mr Mokoena. He apologised to two persons who were not able to make their presentations. He asked them to make written submissions and the Committee would provide another opportunity to them.
Mr Abram agreed. Other matters needing attention were the historical situation of Kalk Bay fishers and traditional rights.
The meeting was adjourned.