Fishing rights policy South Africa

Fishing rights policy unveiled Government today unveiled its final policy on the allocation of long-term marine fishing rights, despite trade union calls for a moratorium on issuing the policy and threats of strike action.

The document’s release, which includes a timetable of the rights allocation process, comes after a group of about 50 trade unionists and fishermen chained themselves to the gates of Parliament overnight to protest the policy.

Those involved have labelled the policy “subtle genocide”, while the Food and Allied Workers’ Union has demanded a detailed impact study and clarity on how it will address job creation and reduce poverty.

Briefing the media at his parliamentary office in Cape Town, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the environmental minister, said the policies were sound and had Cabinet approval. Van Schalkwyk said any legal challenges to the policy would be met head on. He said his department had set aside “a sizeable war chest” to deal with anticipated legal challenges.

Extensive consultation
Van Schalkwyk said prior to the document’s release, extensive consultation was undertaken and included 53 villages and towns, and over 6 000 people.

The final policy was specific to 19 fisheries, and would guide the allocation of long-term rights, estimated to be worth about R70 billion, for periods of between eight and 15 years. According to a timetable released at the briefing, the rights allocation process will commence on June 13 this year and run through to February next year.

The 19 fisheries under consideration are all commercial fisheries, and do not include traditional line fishing. According to the department, this is to be finalised within the next month. On threats by certain trade unions to strike, Van Schalkwyk said such strikes seldom achieved anything. – Sapa

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