Cape Town - Small-scale fishing companies and businesses believed an injustice was taking place with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries’ (Deff) Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) as they were being evaluated on the same level as bigger commercial fishing enterprises.
Nceba Buhlungu, a shareholder in a new entrant to the fishing sector, said there was major red tape regarding Deff’s FRAP, as the requirements made it nearly impossible for new fishing companies and small-scale fishers to compete.
Buhlungu applied for the fishing right in the Hake Deepsea Trawl sector, but their application was unsuccessful. Buhlungu said this was largely due to the department not evaluating applicants in terms of the categories previously announced to transform the fishing sector and ensure big (A), medium (B) and small (C) companies could operate fairly.
He said the some of the requirements in the application were not applicable to small companies and new entrants, which was the reason for the previously announced categories, such as in ownership of vessels and donations towards foundations and NPOs
Langebaan small-scale fisher Solene Smith agreed and said the fishing industry was in a poor state as the department made it difficult for many small-scale fishers and small fishing companies to properly enter the industry.
Smith said this was due to the excessive FRAP application fees which were unaffordable, and were not refunded if applicants were unsuccessful. Therefore many fishers and businesses lost critical funds.
Buhlungu said the fishing rights allocation process took advantage of them – particularly through the exorbitant application fees. His company paid R42 000 in its application for fishing rights in the Hake Deepsea Trawl sector, and of the 175 applications received from old and new companies for the sector, Buhungu said only two new companies were successful.
Environment, Forestry and Fisheries’ Minister Barbara Creecy had previously urged any applicants that were unhappy with the process and results to lodge a formal appeal online on the prescribed appeals form through the Frap 2021 website (https://www.frap2021.co.za/) by Friday.
However, after a request for additional time to submit appeals on the Frap, Creecy extended the closing date for submission of appeals by 30 days until May 29 – any appeals thereafter would not be accepted.
Creecy, as the appeal authority, would consider the facts and supporting documents as presented by the appellant, as they were at the closing date for applications and would not take into account facts that came into existence after that.