Fishing Industry Undergoes Sea Change

Fishing Industry Undergoes Sea Change
Business Day (Johannesburg)
ANALYSIS
March 8, 2005
Posted to the web March 8, 2005

Horst Kleinschmidt
Johannesburg

THE environmental affairs and tourism department’s new fishing allocations are aimed at attracting new black entrants to the industry. On March 1 Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk issued for public discussion a document titled, Policy for Allocation and Management of SA’s Commercial Fisheries, as well as 19 fishery-specific policies for each of SA’s commercial fisheries.

The intention of the department is to allocate commercial fishing rights for periods of eight-15 years.

The duration for which rights will be allocated depends on a range of factors, including the level of empowerment in the fishery, the biological state of the fishery and general levels of compliance with marine living-resource laws in that fishery.

The allocation of commercial fishing rights this year is necessitated by commercial fishing rights reverting to the state on December 31 this year. In 2001 and 2002, the department allocated medium-term (four-year) commercial fishing rights.

This allocation was the first multiyear allocation. Historically, fishing rights were allocated annually. Annual allocations resulted in late allocations, an unstable fishing industry and a generally unattractive economic sector in which to attract capital to finance small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly of black entrepreneurs.

The objectives of allocating four-year rights were to introduce economic and environmental stability to the industry, attract black investors and participants, and increase investment in the fishing industry. The first and third objectives have been more than met.

The South African fishing industry is well managed and economically stable. The hake fishery is the only one in the world to have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, an international food-certification council.

The certification has significant economic growth potential as South African hake has preferential access to European consumers. Investment in South African fisheries has increased significantly.

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