R/€ = 14.31
R/$ = 10.69
Au 1295.53 $/oz
Pt 1478.50 $/oz
Jun 11, 1999
Storm in fishing net as quota war rages onBack
Port|Africa|Barlows Power Systems|Coastal Management|Flow|Marine|Paper|Resources|Systems|Africa|South Africa|United Kingdom|Communications Spokesperson|Flow|Shore Infrastructure|Shore-support Network|Systems|West Coast|Environmental|Andrew McLachlan|Bruce McCracken|Infrastructure|Irvin |Johnson|Mark Stevens|Peter Mokaba|Power|Themba Ngada|Tim Ridell|West Coast
© Reuse this A recent court case between the Depart- ment of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and 61 fishing companies has had repercussions that will be felt throughout South Africa’s fishing industry for years to come, long after judgment against the department was heard on April 23.
The application, brought against the ministry by Langklip See Produkte and BJ Engelbrecht Visserye, was prompted by the State’s reallocation of rock-lobster quotas in an effort to facilitate market entry by ‘previously-disadvantaged’ fishermen: although the sentiment was welcomed by the industry as a whole, the implementation was roundly slated.
The government has been forced to backpedal on the issue, and has allocated 1 569 t of the total allowable catch of West Coast rock lobster proportionally to the 1997–98 quota holders, and has allocated the remainder to new entrants for transformation purposes.
Not only did this deadlock paralyse the West Coast rock-lobster industry, but the ripple effects of the litigation have been felt through to the considerably larger whitefish sector, which has had to wait for five months to have its quotas issued.
The Directorate of Marine and Coastal Management, the arm of the department entrusted with the daunting task of restructuring the industry at large, has put the entire quota process on ice, in an attempt to avoid similar wrangling, pending the outcome of the case.
“We are currently in negotiations with the hake industry in particular in order to distribute fishing rights equitably – all credit must go to the industry for being equal partners in the process,” says directorate: communications spokesperson Themba Ngada of the talks, which were finalised at the end of last month.
Equal partners they may be, but failure of the quotas to be issued has hit the sector hard, with all those affected feeling the pinch; an industry source reveals that fishermen, net manufacturers and refrigeration companies have buckled under the financial strain, and retrenchments are fast becoming the order of the day.
“Two of our vessels are tied up in port at the moment and the crews, numbering 70, as well as the shore-support network, have had to be retrenched,” says Irvin and Johnson (I&J) trawling manager Tim Ridell, who hastens to add that the staff will be re-employed if the new quotas merit the relaunch of the boats.
I&J, along with a handful of other fishing giants, by virtue of their highly-developed shore infrastructure and huge employee counts, have been given provisional quotas by the minister in order to cover overheads – smaller companies, however, have been less fortunate, and have been idle since the beginning of the year, looking on helplessly as debt from fixed costs mounts.
“Withholding the licences has had a negative effect on the industry, particularly in terms of new entrants who have been unable to plan or commit to expenditure,” reveals independent fisherman Andrew McLachlan.
“Guys who are serious about fishing have been affected badly; those who have made investments are in deep trouble because there is zero cash flow and, as a result, the financial institutions have listed us a high-risk industry, which makes business difficult,” he laments, remaining reluctant to apportion blame to any party, particularly the ministry, which he says had little choice but to implement the conditions of the Marine Living Resources Act.
Uncertainty stemming from the delay in issuing the quotas, regardless of fault, has led to delay in the creation of 11 jobs in McLachlan’s fishery alone and, if the obvious lack of job-creation opportunities and ongoing job losses for the whole sector are taken into account, the damage done to coastal economies appears substantial.
Repeated calls, from Sea Harvest in particular, to reissue last year’s quotas while the quota process was refined and readied for implementation were summarily ignored by the powers-that-be.
It appears, ironically, that the very people the minister, with the best intentions, has been trying to assist, are suffering as a result of the restructuring, which a report in the UK’s Fishing News International, in a feature titled ‘Transition in South Africa’, says is an effort by the government aimed at “securing its political credentials before a nationwide election in June”; whether or not it has the desired effect among the electorate remains to be seen.
“The uncertainty created by the hold on fishing quotas has brought the vessel-repowering sector and the market for new vessels to a complete standstill.
“We are by far the strongest in the field, and we are taking immense strain – I shudder to think how the smaller companies are suffering,” says Barlows Power Systems manager: marine division Bruce McCracken.
This contention is borne out by Vredenburg shipbuilder Sachal and Stevens MD Mark Stevens, who singles out Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs Peter Mokaba for praise, despite the downturn in business created by the legislation.
“Mokaba is doing a sterling job by finally getting the process moving, but the fact is that we have lost five monthsworth of production; the quota issue has brought the entire industry to a halt, and we are waiting with bated breath for the new licences to be issued now that the applications have gone in,” says Stevens, who spearheaded the company’s impressive survival strategy during the lean months, which included increased activity in ship repair and steelwork.
The government appears to have the support of the industry and appears, in part at least, to share its sense of urgency, as overdrafts go deeper and deeper into the red, and increasing numbers of workers join the ranks of the unemployed.
“We are anxious to get this process going, and the issue of these rights is dependent on these negotiations; therefore we are not working within a specific timeframe.
“It is essentially our role to issue fishing licences, but we cannot be held responsible for jobs lost while the process is under review,” states Ngada, who stresses that the talks have equal participation from the industry and the directorate.
Another thorny issue is that regarding what is widely called ‘paper-fish’.
Quotas issued by the directorate to successful applicants who, it appears, have little interest in fishing, but are simply riding on the empowerment ticket, have created an outcry from affected parties within the industry.
McLachlin’s view is that the long-term problem of stability faced by the government must be tackled by striking a balance between black empowerment and those simply wanting to secure quotas in order to resell them to big business; these ‘paper quotas’, he says, must be taken away.
But the value of these quotas to emerging fishermen cannot be discounted completely, as they may be a valuable capital resource for previously-disadvantaged fishermen to secure a stake in larger companies which are equipped with the infrastructure, but lack long-term access to sufficient supplies of raw material – the viability of such synergies are no doubt being explored.
Once South Africa’s fishing industry has emerged from this state of flux, a final hurdle threatening its survival must be negotiated, namely the threat of foreign fishermen raiding our waters.
Much has been made of the government’s proposed plans to allow the Spanish access to South Africa’s hallowed fishing territory.
“The Spanish consume three times more fish than the UK, and they are notorious for their shady fishing practices,” says Stevens, backed by Reddell, who has equally strong views on their involvement in local fishing.
“If the Spanish come in they will pillage our waters, and that will be a nightmare for the industry,” concurs Ridell.
The government, on the other hand, appears scornful of the concerns of the industry.
“The issue of foreign fishing companies in local waters is an old one; it is perfectly clear under the Marine Living Resources Act 18 of 1998 that South African waters are for South Africa only; however, concessions will be made by the minister in the case of foreign companies that want to fish where there is no local capacity.
“Even then, the licences will not be granted willy-nilly, but with strict provisos – they will have to train and employ local staff and invest in shore infrastructure, among other things,” indicates Ngada.
In theory this appears to be a sound proposition, but a questionmark hangs over the ability of the authorities to police catch limits, given the Spaniards’ reputation for over-fishing.
Edited by: System Author© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Vessels, Heat Exchangers, Tanks and Containers News
African downstream petroleum multinational Engen Petroleum is currently undertaking first-phase revamp work on Beira Terminal, an import and storage facility in the Port of Beira, Mozambique. When complete, the terminal will be able to supply Mozambique, Zimbabwe,...
Global shipping company Maersk Line (ML) has reduced its energy consumption and has registered a corresponding environmental-impact reduction of 105.000 t of carbon dioxide (CO2) for all its vessel operations since its environment-friendly software programme, the...
US-based Technology and engineering company Emerson Process Management announced the release of an integrated Heat Exchanger Monitoring Solution that improves operations performance and reduces energy costs. The solution is part of Emerson’s new suite of Essential...
Updated 34 minutes ago Work has officially started at Cennergi’s R3.5-billion Amakhala Emoyeni wind farm, located near Bedford, in the Eastern Cape. The 138 MW project was among the 19 renewable-energy and seven wind projects selected following the second bid window under the South...
Updated 38 minutes ago Denel’s Seeker 400 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system has successfully completed the second round of flight tests as part of its development process. The tests, conducted at the Alkantpan range in the Northern Cape, included an evaluation of the system for range...
Updated 1 hour 18 minutes ago Pulp and paper manufacturer Sappi was headed for a year of profitability as the stronger-than-expected third quarter delivered improved performance within all its operations, barring North America. Despite being a traditionally seasonally weaker quarter, the three...
Recent Research Reports
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Steel 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the steel industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the global and South African steel and stainless steel markets, South Africa’s major steel producers and events that have shaped these markets.
This Week's Magazine
Multinational semiconductor chipmaker corporation Intel announced its national campaign to further acquire partners to drive its She Will Connect programme, an initiative that aims to expand digital literacy skills to young women in developing countries, further into...
South Africa's MeerKAT radio telescope array programme should get back on schedule within a few months. This assurance has been given by SKA South Africa (SKA SA) associate director: science and technology Prof Justin Jonas. Early last month, Science and Technology...
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA’s) Metrorail service will remain a subsidised service following its current multibillion-rand rolling stock, station, depot and signalling upgrade programme. PRASA group CEO Lucky Montana has allayed fears that...
The uncertainties around the remediation of affected areas as addressed in the Contaminated Land Provisions in the National Environmental Management: Waste Act No 59 of 2008 will possibly spark litigation and disputes between landowners and businesses, contractors...
South Africa is currently the largest component of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB’s) active portfolio in Southern Africa, comprising 62.5% of the bank’s $7.9-billion exposure to the 12-country region – the second largest beneficiary is Mauritius, which...