South Africa’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, expressed dissatisfaction with the decision of the Western Cape High Court to grant an urgent interdict on the process of allocating fishing rights, which suspends inshore trawling.
“In total, 27 right holders have been stopped from undertaking commercial fishing of hake and sole until such time as the full review application is heard and decided. This could be months away,” the minister said.
“The situation has left a number of companies in a dire state,” he stressed.
Zokwana says this judgment undermines the separation between the judiciary and the executives.
The measure adopted by the Court involves the suspension of all activities of the trawling industry of hake and sole in coastal waters, which moves ZAR 300 million (USD 22 million) per year.
In the minister’s opinion, the company should have exhausted the internal appeal remedy, the South African News Government Agency reported.
“We have not received and are still waiting for the written judgment which was requested by our lawyers the same date the court order was issued.” The interim interdict application ought to have been refused by the court,” he poited out.
The minister emphasized that his area is committed to ensuring a transformation in the South African fishing industry, and said he is consulting his legal team to determine the most appropriate path to follow, including a review of the court order given its legal and practical implications.
He said this measure is damaging the empowerment of medium-sized black-owned businesses who have been granted rights in this fishery, and who were expected to commence fishing immediately.
Zokwana explained that a number of medium-sized black empowered companies in the sector are substantially or exclusively reliant on hake inshore trawling for their incomes, and they now face an entirely uncertain and possibly financial crippling future.