The Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) 2020 will be extended to 31 December 2021, a year later than scheduled.
In terms of Section 18 of the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998, 12 South African commercial fishing sectors were expecting to have their rights reconfirmed by 31 December 2020. This has now been delayed to ensure a credible and transparent Fishing Rights Allocation Process and to reduce the number of appeals and legal reviews.
The decision taken by Cabinet last week was announced by Minister of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy, today. It affects the 12 commercial fishing sectors concerned.
They are: KZN Prawn Trawl; Demersal Shark; Tune-Pole Line; Hake Handline; Line Fish; White Mussels; Oysters; Squid; Small Pelagics (Pilchard and Anchovy); Hake Deepsea Trawl; Hake Longline; and South Coast Rock Lobster.
The additional year buys time for Minister Creecy and her Department to resolve a number of legal and administrative procedures that must be followed.
Cabinet noted that any fishing rights allocation process is highly contentious. Cabinet believes that approving the extension of the timeframes will be in the interest of all South Africans, including both the current right holders and aspirant applicants.
Socio-economic impact analysis studies
The extra time will give the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) an opportunity to conduct socio-economic impact analysis studies on the General Policy on the Allocation of Commercial Fishing Rights, as well as the 12 Sector-specific policies.
Supplier information workshop
The department will also be appointing a number of service providers to manage and observe the rights allocation process. This includes developing and managing the database; assisting with adjudications, and conducting forensic investigations and audits on the information provided by applicants.
To this end, the department will shortly be convening a Supplier Information Workshop to outline the specific requirements and outcomes of the various processes that will be put out to tender.
The department also intends to ensure that the awarding of all the tenders as well as the actual decision-making during the allocation process are open to public scrutiny. The department will also use the additional time to ensure that the decision-making process is supported by credible scientific and socio-economic information on all the fishing sectors due for reallocation.
During the FRAP process, the department will also be embarking upon an extensive public consultation process on the proposed policies, application forms and amended fees that will be payable.
The consultation process will aim to allow debate and discussion on the controversial aspects of a rights allocation process. This includes the criteria used to determine transformation targets; balancing criteria; minimising fronting and paper quota holders; quantum methodology; and determinations of economically viable allocations.
The department will furthermore be appointing suitably qualified and credible members to the Consultative Advisory Forum (CAF) as well as to the Appeals Advisory Panel(s) to advise the Minister on appeals lodged.
“It is important to re-state today the decision to review the FRAP 2020 process which will see the re-issuing of licenses for 12 of the 22 fisheries. This decision has been taken following consultation with the sector and is aimed at ensuring we follow all regulatory and legislative requirements.
“It is essential that the process is seen to be fair, open and transparent. It must promote the transformation of the sector and create sustainable livelihoods for the many coastal communities who have no other means of support,” said Minister Creecy.
Lamberts Bay meeting feedback
At a meeting held on Saturday in Lamberts Bay with fishers from west coast fishing communities, Minister Creecy announced that the allocation of fishing rights for small-scale co-operatives in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape will be concluded during September and October.
The allocations in the Western Cape will be concluded at the beginning of the fishing season. This includes announcements on the “basket of species” to be made available to the registered small-scale cooperatives in the different coastal regions.
She further stated that the Western Cape lists, per area, will be independently evaluated and audited. This in order to provide assurance that the lists are credible. Also that those that meet the criteria have been included, while those who are not bona fide fishers have not erroneously made it onto the final lists.