SUID-AFRIKAANSE VEREENIGDE VISSERS FRONT

SOUTH AFRICAN UNITED FISHING FRONT

ďUNITY IS STRENGTHĒ / ďEENDRAG MAAK MAGĒ

 

MEMORANDUM

 

 

15 November 2006

 

TO : The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism

CC : TETA (maritime chamber)

CC : Department of Labour

 

SUBJECT : THE RIGHTS ALLOCATIONS PROCESS and RELATED ISSUES

 

The South African United Fishing Front, on behalf of itís members, wishes to express itís extreme dissatisfaction with the processes which were followed in the allocation of long term rights in the fishing industry.Our membership cuts across many sectors in the fishing industry from small quota holders to boat owners and crew in the traditional line fish sector.We have registered members in most fishing villages and fishing communities which includes Doringbaai, Elandsbaai, Laingville, The Cove, Paternoster, Saldanha Bay, Vredenburg, Langebaan, Yzerfontein, Mamre and Atlantis on the West Coast to Central Cape Town and further south to Bettyís Bay, Kleinmond, Hawston, Mount Pleasant, Zwelihle, Hermanus, Stanford, Gansbaai, Blompark, Masakhane, Pearly Beach, Buffeljagsbaai, Struisbaai and Arniston.

 

The devastating impact brought about by this process is evident in most of our fishing villages and communities.Abject poverty being the order of the day and unprecedented levels of alcohol and substance abuse brought on by the high unemployment rate is ravaging these once peaceful and tranquil communities. The continued financial burdens (in the form of levies, permits and monitoring systems) being placed on the small boat industry on those who have acquired rights further threatens the income of those who still have access to the marine resources as these rights holders must now question the economic viability of these rights.

 

The failure of this process to reach itís intended target, being the bona fide fisherman and traditional fishing communities, must be addressed in a most serious light given the fact that entire fishing communities are being torn apart at their very core.The imminent collapse of these social structures is indicative of oppressive behaviour (by MCM) and our communities should therefore enjoy the guaranteed protection of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

 

We use this opportunity to raise these issues, which we consider to have had the most devastating impact on the industry :

 

 

  1. RIGHTS VERIFICATION PROCESS

 

We cannot accept the outcome of this process as too many bona fide fishermen have been excluded and in particular the traditional fisherman and traditional fishing communities whose entire existence is dependant upon the marine resources.We further reject this process because of the deliberate exclusion of fishermen and fishing communities from the verification process.We draw your attention to the fact that it was suggested at several imbizos that local fishing communities and commercial fishing associations should be part of the verification process in each particular area and/or sector.This suggestion was also made directly to Minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk at the Woodstock imbizo.It is unacceptable that those whom should have benefitted from this process were not afforded the opportunity of representation in a matter which clearly had a direct impact on their communities.The results of this process has yielded results which once again includes individuals who have no knowledge of the industry and has excluded many individuals who have known nothing else but the sea and itís resources as a means of livelihood.It was mentioned at several imbizos that consideration would be given to the high illiteracy rate in our fishing communities and that the application forms would take a very simple format.If this was indeed the case, then why was it necessary for individuals to seek assistance (and in many cases pay for this assistance) to complete these application forms?It is our view that many who have been successful are individuals who are academically more advanced than our local fisherman and those in our fishing communities.It also remains our view that the complex nature of the application forms led to many of our people failing to complete it correctly, resulting in negative scores and ultimately exclusion from access to the resources.It is more than obvious that many individuals who have qualified for these rights did so under false pretences and have through their actions deprived the bona fide fisherman and fishing communities of their right to access to food.Failure to distinguish between such individuals and the bona fide fisherman should be placed at the door of Marine and Coastal Management and the Rights Verification Unit.This matter must receive urgent attention as we believe this process to be core of the problem within the fishing industry.

 

SOUTH AFRICAN UNITED FISHING FRONT PROPOSES :

 

a)      THE IMMEDATE STRUCTURING OF AN INDEPENDENT VERIFICATION UNIT WHICH MUST BE REPRESENTATIVE OF ALL STAKEHOLDERS AND AFFECTED FISHING COMMUNITIES.

b)      WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT REVIEW ALL SUCCESSFUL APPLICANTS WITH THE AIM OF RIDDING THE INDUSTRY OF THOSE WHO ENTERED UNDER FALSE PRETENCES.

c)       DEMONSTRATE A PHYSICAL PRESENCE WITH ACTIVE INVESTIGATIONS IN ALL FISHING COMMUNITIES.

d)      CALL UPON THE ASSISTANCE AND SUPPORT OF ALL GOVERMENTAL DEPARTMENTS WHO CAN LEND SUPPORT IN EXPIDITING THIS CRITICAL TASK.

e)      IDENTIFY AND CONFIRM THE BONA FIDE FISHERMAN FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF CORRECTIVE ACTION WRT THE RIGHTS ALLOCATION PROCESS.

 

 

 

 

  1. RECOGNITION OF TRADITIONAL FISHERMEN AND TRADITIONAL FISHING COMMUNITIES

 

Results of the rights allocation process wrt to traditional fishermen and traditional fishing communities clearly illustrates that this sector of our fishing community has been grossly overlooked.Remote fishing villages such as Doringbaai, Elandsbaai, Hondeklipbaai, Struisbaai and many others who have limited access to other industries have borne the brunt of the allocations process.Failure to recognize the cultural and traditional values of these villages have infringed upon their constitutional rights.This particular sector must be recognized for their contribution to this country and must be afforded the right to access marine resources for a sustainable existence.For generations these men and women have harvested the sea and not once have they ever threatened the resource.They have, as matter of fact, protected these resources and have also for generations acknowledged the value of these resources together with the need to protect it in order to serve and provide for future generations.It is unfair that the plundering of marine resources by off-shore companies and inshore poaching should so negatively impact upon those whom have done nothing less then guard this valuable resource for a sustainable existence from generation to generation.

 

SOUTH AFRICAN UNITED FISHING FRONT PROPOSES :

 

a)      THAT TRADITIONAL FISHERMEN AND TRADITIONAL FISHING VILLAGES BE IDENTIFIED AND THAT THEY BE SCORED SEPERATELY BASED ON THEIR TRADITIONAL AND CULTURAL VALUE TO SOUTH AFRICA

b)      DUE CONSIDERATION BE GIVEN TO THEIR GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATIONS AND THEIR ACCESS TO OTHER INDUSTRIES

c)       THAT AS A MATTER OF GRAVE URGENCY ALTERNATE MEANS OF SUSTAINABLE INCOME BE DEVELOPED WITHIN THESE COMMUNITIES

d)      THAT ALL THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS BE UPHELD AND THAT THESE COMMUNITIES BE ACKNOWLEDGED FOR THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO THE FISHING INDUSTRY

e)      THAT THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO OTHER SECTORS SUCH AS TOURISM (South Africaís attraction lies in itís showcasing the diversity of itís cultures and traditions of which the fishing villages forms an integral part) BE FULLY ACKNOWLEDGED AND SEEK TO BENEFIT THESE VILLAGES BY DEVELOPING SKILLS AND INTERGRATING OUR PEOPLE INTO THESE SECTORS.

 

 

3         SAUFF & THE VESSEL MONITORING SYSTEM

 

We strongly support the call of the small boat owner in the traditional line fish sector that the implementation of the VMS be halted until such time that all the relevant stakeholders or their representatives have been consulted.The financial burden (in addition to levies, permits and compulsory insurance for crew members, vessel and tow vehicle) that is being placed on the boat owner has reached unacceptable levels and has raised the question of whether the traditional line-fish sector is still economically viable or not.It is our opinion that those speaking on behalf of the traditional line fish sector do not represent the majority of individuals involved in this sector and therefore cannot make decisions on their behalf.We acknowledge that although boat owners make up a certain percentage of the traditional line fish sector, the vast majority, who are crew members have no representation.Our concern stems from the fact that should boat owners decide to no longer engage in this sector, this will indeed have a negative impact on crew members and their dependants.It is the view of many boat owners that the department has not given the necessary attention to factors which influence the sustainability of this sector.These include poor catches in 2006, profitable sea-going days, excessive fuel prices, increases in maintenance costs of boats and outboard motors and much more.To burden the boat owner with more costs, especially one that benefits the department, is unacceptable and unfair to say the least.

 

SOUTH AFRICAN UNITED FISHING FRONT PROPOSES :

 

a)      MCM TOGETHER WITH OTHER AUTHORITIES IN THE MARITIME INDUSTRY PLACE MORE EMPHASIS ON THE MONITORING OF VESSELS FROM A LAUNCHING / LANDING POINT OF VIEW

b)      THAT ACCURATE RECORD KEEPING IE. LOGBOOKS, LANDING SLIPS ETC ARE MAINTAINED WHEN AND WHEREVER VARIOUS SPECIES ARE TARGETED

c)       MCM SHOWS GOOD FAITH BY ASSISTING SMALL BOAT OWNERS IN ACHIEVING COST REDUCTION BY JOINTLY APPROACHING GOVERNMENT TO ENSURE THAT LEVIES AND TAXES ON FUEL WHICH DO NOT APPLY TO SEA-GOING VESSELS ARE REMOVED THEREBY MAKING THIS INDUSTRY MORE ATTRACTIVE TO THE CURRENT RIGHT HOLDERS.

d)      MCM ENSURE THAT THEY IDENTIFY AND CONSULT THE RELEVANT STAKEHOLDERS BEFORE MAKING DECISIONS WHICH COULD HAVE A FURTHER NEGATIVE IMPACT ON THE FISHING INDUSTRY.

 

 

4        SUSPENSION OF THE TRANSFERENCE OF TRADITIONAL LINE FISH RIGHTS

 

The SAUFF vehemently opposes the transference of traditional line fish rights until such time that positive identification has been confirmed of those who genuinely form part of the industry.The transference of rights would once again impact negatively on the industry as there are no guarantees that crew members will be in a position to hold onto their jobs.We do however support the views of our bona fide right holders that this right is their only means to successfully retire or withdraw from the industry.Until the real fisherman has been positively identified the industry will remain exposed to abuse by those who do not belong in it, being able to transfer these rights to the bona fide fishermen (at exorbitant prices).It is imperative that these individuals be identified and not be afforded the opportunity to sell a right which did not belong to them in the first instance.

 

SOUTH AFRICAN UNITED FISHING FRONT PROPOSES :

 

a)      THAT THE TRANSFERENCE OF RIGHTS BE SUBJECT TO THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:

                                I.      THE VERIFICATION OF EXISTING RIGHT HOLDERS AS PER THE VERIFICATION PROCESS SUGGESTED UNDER THE HEADING†††††††††††† 1. RIGHTS VERIFICATION PROCESS OF THIS DOCUMENT

                              II.      THE ASSESSMENT OF INDIVIDUAL RIGHT HOLDERS AS DETERMINED BY THE RELEVANT POLICY SUBJECT TO I. ABOVE

b)      THAT BONA FIDE FISHERMEN WHO ORIGINALLY APPLIED FOR LONG TERM RIGHTSHAVE THEIR APPLICATIONS RE-EVALUATED AND WHERE PROOF OF GENUINE INVOLVEMENT EXISTS IN THE INDUSTRY, THESE INDIVIDUALS ARE GIVEN ACCESS TO RIGHTS REMOVED FROM FALSE ENTRIES WITHOUT ANY COSTS BEING INCURRED BY THE BONA FIDE ENTRANT.

c)       THAT ONCE a) & b) ABOVE HAVE BEEN ACHIEVED RIGHT HOLDERS MUST BE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO RETIRE OR WITHDRAW FROM THE INDUSTRY SHOULD THEY FEEL THE NEED TO DO SO.

d)      THAT THE CRITERIA SET DOWN FOR NEW APPLICANTS APPLY TO ANY NEW ENTRANT WHO WISHES TO PURCHASE OR TAKE-OVER AN EXISTING TRADITIONAL LINE FISH RIGHT.

e)      THAT THE INTERESTS OF CREW MEMBERS ARE ATTENTED TOO IN FULL BEFORE ANY TRANSACTION INVOLVING THE TRANSFERENCE OF A TRADITIONAL LINE FISH RIGHT IS CONCLUDED.

 

 

5         SUSPENSION OF GOVERNMENT SPONSORED TRAINING IN THE SMALL BOAT INDUSTRY

 

The method employed in the training of literally thousands of individuals in the small boat industry can only be described as putting the horse before the cart.This training cost the tax payer millions of rand and the vast majority of those trained will never be able to utilize this training in any land based operation.The fact that the training and medical examinations took place before the allocations were announced is questionable as once again only a few benefitted from this exercise ie. doctors and training providers.The SAUFF is no way whatsoever opposed to skills development but we do have a huge problem when the skills that are transferred cannot be used in any other sector.All skills development in the small boat industry including pre-sea induction training, small boat skills and u25 ton skippers training are specific to this industry and therefore not transferable to other industries.

 

SOUTH AFRICAN UNITED FISHING FRONT PROPOSES :

 

a)      ALL TRAINING BE SUSPENDED UNTIL MCM CAN SUPPLY A RELIABLE DATA BASE OF INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE ACQUIRED LONG TERM RIGHTS

b)      ALL SERVICE PROVIDERS TRAIN ONLY ACCORDING TO THE INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY MCM

c)       THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT (MARITIME CHAMBER) THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATES SUBMISSIONS MADE BY SERVICE PROVIDERS WITH REGARD TO THE TRAINING OF INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE NOT PART OF THE TARGETTED GROUP.

d)      THAT THE ABUSES IN THIS PARTICULAR SECTOR BE STOPPED AND THAT TRAINING ONLY TAKES PLACE ONCE INDIVIDUALS ARE CONFIRMED RIGHTS HOLDERS.

 

 

 

As the SOUTH AFRICAN UNITED FISHING FRONT we seek to engage all governmental departments and stakeholders in the fishing industry in a manner which would yield positive results for those most affected by the problems highlighted in this memorandum.

 

We seek to actively participate in matters which have a direct bearing on the welfare of our members and would prefer to find a constructive and speedy solution to problems which obviously impacts on the lives of thousands of people in our country.

 

WE CAN NO LONGER SIT BACK AND WATCH, IN ANTICIPATION OF A SOLUTION, HOW OUR FISHING COMMUNITIES DETERIORATES IN FRONT OF VERY EYES.AS SOUTH AFRICANS AND AS THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TOWARD OUR FISHING COMMUNITIES AND WE OWE IT TO EVERYONE TO OFFER A FAIR AND JUST PROCESS TO OUR FELLOW COUNTRYMEN.

 

THE SITUATION IN FISHING COMMUNITIES IS NOTHING SHORT OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY AND WE CALL ON GOVERNMENT TO TREAT IT AS SUCH AND TOO INTERVENE ON A NATIONAL LEVEL AS A MATTER OF GRAVE URGENCY.

 

OUR CONTRIBUTION MUST BE VIEWED IN THE SPIRIT THAT IT IS INTENDED.WE AIM NOT TOO ENLARGE THE CURRENT CRISIS BY EMPLOYING CONFRONTATIONAL METHODS BUT RATHER TO ENGAGE IN CONSTRUCTIVE AND MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE WHICH CAN FORM THE BASIS FOR THE NECESSARY ACTIONS REQUIRED TO REMEDY THE CURRENT SITUATION.

 

 

 

 

 

THE SOUTH AFRICAN UNITED FISHING FRONT

DIE SUID-AFRIKAANSE VEREENIGDE VISSERS FRONT

 

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