Mixed response to minister's fisheries stakeholder meeting
SA Small-Scale Fisheries Association spokesperson Pedro Garcia said: “It is my view that the stakeholder engagement with the ministers went very well. It concluded with the minister stating that the department must realise they are there to serve the people and not the people to serve them.”
However, managing director at Feike, a Cape Town-based natural resources advisory firm, Shaheen Moolla said: “The calling of such an open ‘stakeholder’ meeting was extremely unwise and misguided.
“The minister should have been advised to instead meet with each industry body recognised to represent sectors of our fishing industry under the Marine Living Resources Act.”
During the open discussion with the stakeholders, Creecy said she was advised not to include all sectors, but decided to go against the advice.
Accompanied by Deputy Minister Maggie Sotyu, Creecy had a frank and free exchange of views with the participants at the forum whose stated purpose was “to initiate dialogue and co-operation between the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry and the fishing industry and to jointly address government’s key priorities”.
The forum also sought to find solutions to the challenges of job creation, economic transformation, growth and development in the industry.
While until now the department has tried to maintain a careful balancing act regarding fishing rights allocations under the Fishing Rights Allocation Process for 2020 (FRAP 2020), on Wednesday, the minister appeared to indicate she was willing to pause the process, much to the relief of the small-scale fishers who had made a request for her to do so.
Speaking after the forum, Garcia said: “The minister had also indicated that FRAP 2020 and other allocation processes must be more transparent and there is every possibility that she may heed a call from the floor that FRAP 2020 be put on hold.
“In my address to the minister I had made it clear that if FRAP 2020 goes ahead without us knowing whether there is sufficient resources for near-shore and small-scale fisheries, there is every possibility that our people could be left in the cold for 10 to 15 years.”
Creecy said she would be visiting other areas and provinces for similar talks in the very near future.@MwangiGithahu