TRANSFORMATION IN SOUTH AFRICAN FISHING INDUSTRY

If transformation's intention in South Africa was to rectify the injustices and wrongs of the apartheid system then within the fishing industry it has been a complete failure. Those who had unjustly gained fishing rights through their support of apartheid system have in reality actually cemented their gains and the majority of the wealthy privileged whites have used the system to their advantage. Swindlers, con artists and opportunists have found the vulnerable fisherfolk easy prey to defraud from any empowerment or development and have jeopardized any attempt to address the needs of the disadvantaged poor fishing communities.

THE SYSTEM:

Total Allowable Catch restrictions are the main tool being used by the South African government to achieve biological objectives. Quota allocations are being used to redistribute fishing rights and Individual Transferable Quota or an futile attempted Individual Non-Transferable Quota and permits for linefish and nettrekking is the mechanism introduced to distribute the T.A.C. To obtain fishing rights an individual or company, one has to apply through a bought application form and is judged on a point scoring criteria in order to gain a permit to harvest. The structures to oversee these procedures are first, the applicant's form is scrutinized and judged by the auditors Deloitte & Touche Cape Town on general guidelines of payment of application, tax, business and correctness of application. Then this is passed on to a second group known as the assessment group and finally to The Rights Allocation Unit who decides who has the right to harvest.

The supposed aims of the ITO system in South Africa are:

         To broaden transformation in the fishery and to redistribute access to fishing rights.

 

         To allocate access rights fairly and equitably.

 

         To limit access in line with conservation objectives.

 

         To establish a system of affordable access fees for those allowed the privilege of access to harvest.

 

         To provide the government with revenues to maintain an appropriate fisheries management system.

 

         To give priority to bone-fide fishers.

 

         To provide more Accountability and Transparency.

 

[As taken on face value by the government officials speeches at Imbizos -2005.]

ANALYSIS OF THE POLICY IMPLEMENTATION ON THE DISADVANTAGED TRADIDITIONAL ARTISANAL FISHERFOLK:

The implementation of the allocations has become the "curse of the poor" for fishing communities. It has become a vehicle for the privileged, corrupt and opportunists to take advantage of the Quota system and make a mockery of equity because of the move towards rent seeking. There has been a shameful exploitation not only of our marine resources but also of the illiteracy, ill-informed and gullible poor traditional fishers. This type of unethical practices enables these influential groupings of apartheid beneficiaries, who owe no allegiance to the poverty stricken communities to exert control of fishing rights over the powerless ill-informed peoples. Where there should have been restitution there has actually been a retention of the oppressive yesteryear's racists fishing status quo Through this widespread unethical practices and the implementation of our inequitable Allocation System a grave tragedy is unfolding and is resulting in livelihoods, identity, food security being destroyed and poverty being elevated to a new level. Complaints by fishing communities have fallen on deaf ears and the objections to the allocation names has been no more than a facade, a failure.

COST:

One of the causes thus is not only the skewed distribution of the quotas but because some people are too poor or too powerless due to financial restraints to make the payment for an application or to obtain a permit to harvest. Where the average earnings for line fishers and lobster fishers are estimated at about R800 R1000 per month it has been almost impossible for them to participate in applying for a fishing Quota.

This large amount of costs is enormous for a fisher person through a system that has marginalized them more and more from their right to a sustainable livelihood and made them vulnerable for exploitation..

MARGINALIZATION:

The social, cultural and micro-economic impact of past policy were not taken into consideration when moving-towards long-term rights. There was and is no concern for the disastrous effect of the implementation created by the previous allocation policy since 1998 on the fishing communities and the implications that would jeopardize the chances of applying or reapplying. No structures were developed, to identify the impact both socially, environmentally and economically and on the community and it was left to a few NGO's and researches to monitor the vast problems created. With the backing of white supremists in "sheeps clothing," the effect of the opportunists, "funders" and fraudsters who obtained the Quotas under the pretext "of helping the fishing communities" and end up with owning the quotas have left the majority of bona-fide fisher people completely out in the cold. The cries of foul play through petitions, rallys, marches, media and meetings by the aggrieved fishing communities, NGO's, public, Unions and international organizations has fallen on deaf ears and completely ignored until now?

There are people and organizations that are applying to get Quotas for the sole aim of profit-seeking, retaining the status quo of yesteryear and for appeasing their own self-interests. They show no concern for the environmental degradation, economic and social disintegration of our poorer communities. People who are knowledgeable of how government policy works and the strategy required to obtain Quotas have taken advantage of the vulnerability of the fisherfolk. They have also used Black Empowerment as a rent-seeking exercise to empower their own selfish greed.

The most deplorable act comes from the situation, marked in blue under cost the helper or consultant" where these people used the identities and vulnerability of people both non-fishers and traditional fishers to obtain Quotas and none of the financial benefits actually reached the sucessfull applicants. The paper quota and string quota scenario has strangle much needed development, transformation and has left many fisherfolk in a poverty stricken situation.

From the previous implementation of the policy that has been changed since 1996 from

[a] Community Quota

[b] Quota Board application

[c] Transformation Council Allocation

[d] Karaki C.C allocation.

[e] Subsistence Permit System.

[f] R.A.V. Quota allocation

[g] Long Term Rights,

many fishers have been left out of the processes and have found themselves unable to be recognised as having a history of harvesting or as a sole livelihood occupancy.

Many opportunists and fraudsters have stolen a march on the fisher people over the past and position themselves to obtain Quotas at the expense of the fishing communities.

Many of the failings towards an artisanal / traditional fishing policy have had their origins in the way the policy has evolved over the past years has been the main concerns for industrial production, conservation and non recognition of the informal sector. This has overshadowed the social needs and wider environmental concerns resulting in an imbalance of development policies and institutional structure support. There is a failure to recognise inequity and suffering as a result of a policy that is not human-rights based.

PROBLEMS with the SYSTEM.


For generations Artisanal fisheries have been involve in a wide variety of skills and local craft harvesting, manufacturing of nets and boats, outboard motor repair, fishing tackle etc. Although these skills are an important element of cultural identity and provide important links between the different members of the community, they are perceived to have little value or recognition. The terrible abuse of the system by rich white opportunists has nullified any substantive transformation that addresses the plight of the poor fisherfolk.

Access to fish has always been a hedge against poverty and hunger for the poorer fishing communities. Fishing not only provides a livelihood and an income but plays a significant role in the contribution to livelihoods, culture, food security and nutrition we have a system that is neither humane, human rights based, just or morally correct. With the introduction of the long term rights the erosion of self esteem and human values is fast taking place and no longer is the marine resource a building block of social creation but a monetary commodity that is now procucing a dysfunctional society..

It is up to the state toensure the welfare and wellbeing of it's citizens. This wellbeing should take pride of place over any other concern and should intervene in order to counter the damaging effect of it's policies. In the implentation of the fisheries policy it has fail to do this or to redistribute the fishing rights away from the previous priviledged white exploiters of the our people.

Implementation of our Marine Living Resources Act the historical injustices and the tyranny within the fishing industry was not taken into consideration which allowed no room for RESTITUTION or genuine TRANSFORMATION to materialize.

In fact this allowed many of the racist criminals who should have been procecuted to actually become holders of fishing Quotas through devious and corrupt means. The figure is that seventy percent of the these persons now have fishing rights and that they monopolise the marketing aspect of the fish trade by their control of undemocratic apartheid instituted boards. Sustainable development has to be people centred and people orientated and not things orientated and economically -centred, this is problem, transformation has become a saying that" everything must change yet everything must remain the same"

If the disadvantaged peoples and the oppressed majority have to take take their place in a BETTER South Africa then we should start weeding out the controf that these ruthless greedy RACIST have starting within the Science fraternity, M.C.M., Environmentalists, and Government.

The big question is of you sitting here today do you have the political will to do this?

Thanking you,
A.W.Johnston.