Fishing rights scandal

The Democratic Alliance has called for the fishing rights allocation process to be started from scratch.

Boats in port. Photo: Stan Blumberg
Boats in port. Photo: Stan Blumberg

This follows allegations by a legal expert that the score-sheets used by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to award fishing rights reveal a “blatant arbitrariness and unlawfulness of the process”.

According to a legal expert there does not appear to have been any evaluation of applications for compliance with any of the peremptory criteria contained in the Mineral Living Resources Act (MLRA) and other fisheries policies.

The DA has already submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for access to all the records of score sheets from the Department of Fisheries.

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They have also called for the Public Protector, Adv Thuli Madonsela to investigate the process followed by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in awarding of fishing rights.

Pending Adv Madonsela’s assessment of the grounds for her office’s investigation, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson should start the process of the awarding of fishing rights afresh. The process must be carried in an open and transparent manner and legal and policy requirement followed to the letter.

In the meantime, fishermen must be allowed to retain their old permits and use these alongside their already granted exemptions to continue their trade.