Fishing rights allocation set for year end, DFFE says
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THE Department of Fisheries Forestry and Environmental (DFFE) has raised hope for investor confidence after releasing the timelines for the allocation of fishing rights after a year-long delay.
The DFFE finally announced timelines for the Fishing Rights Allocation Process (Frap) last week indicating it was in a position to allocate fishing rights and meet the set deadline of the end of December, with appeals to be finalised in early 2022.
Government delayed the renewal of new commercial rights which were set to expire in December last year amid concerns that fishing communities were excluded in previous allocations.
The timelines will see the gazetting of final policies and the opening of the application process next month. The department said it remained committed to ensuring the process was transparent and legally defensible.
“The Frap 2021 process is committed to allocating resources in a sustainable manner for future generations while also attempting to balance the competing requirements of broadening access, particularly by marginalised groups and small medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), balancing government’s priorities of transforming the sector but also ensuring the global competitiveness of South Africa’s fishing sector,” it said in a statement.
“The FRAP 2020/21 process marks the first ever inclusion of socio-economic impact assessments in an allocation process since South Africa originally allocated long-term fishing rights to 22 commercial sectors in 2005.”
Commenting on the timelines, FishSA chairperson Loyiso Phantshwa said the commercial fishing industry was a significant employer, with over 30 000 direct jobs and over 85 000 indirect jobs. Over the years the industry had made huge capital investments with a positive transformation record.
He said the company looked forward to the release of draft policies and kick-starting of the Frap 2021 process.
“In order to play even a bigger role in the South African economy, policy certainty, stability, investment and job creation will be critical outcomes of this process, this is so for both big players and SMMEs,” said Phantshwa.
Brimstone Investment, which owns a 54.2 percent stake in Sea Harvest, hoped the timelines would be strictly adhered to.
Chief executive Mustaq Brey said: “This time-table brings certainty and a clear time frame to a process which we have been anticipating for a long time,” Brey said.
Atlantis Seafood Products founder, Luis Figueiredo said the success of the group’s factory to date had been dependent on imported seafood products and processing works.
“We need guaranteed, sustainable access to locally caught hake and other seafood products. We believe that a viable quota granted to our business would directly benefit our workforce and the local Atlantis community that we support, some 1 500 previously disadvantaged people, for many years to come,” said Figueiredo.
South Africa boasts 2 800 kilometres of coastline and has several communities and industries that rely on fishing for survival. Meanwhile, the Cabinet recently approved the draft National Freshwater (Inland) Wild Capture Fisheries Policy for implementation. The DFFE said the policy provided an efficient regulatory regime for the inland fisheries sector and formalises informal and unrecognised activities of small-scale fishers in inland areas.
“This policy creates an equitable inland fishing governance framework with defined user rights and socioeconomic goals to include rural communities in livelihood and economic opportunities linked to freshwater natural resources,” said the DFFE.