On Sept. 22, local authorities from the Central African island state of São Tomé and Príncipe boarded the Senegalese-flagged, but Spanish-linked, long-line fishing vessel Vema in a joint operation with Sea Shepherd marine conservationists and Gabonese law enforcement officers called Operation Albacore III.
Although the long-liner was licensed to fish for "tuna and similar species," inspections carried out by São Toméan authorities working on board the Sea Shepherd vessel Bob Barker revealed their fish holds were solely filled with sharks, predominantly blue sharks that are classified as "near-threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Fishing line tracers (or snoods), which are the monofilament segments that support the fishing hooks, were reinforced with steel wire, thereby underlining the suspicion that the targeted species of the Vema was mainly sharks, not tuna. Steel snoods are used to prevent sharks from biting through the fishing line to escape.
Fish on board were also found gutted and processed, which is a violation of São Toméan fisheries regulations when advance approval has not been sought, which the Vema did not obtain.
Approximately two tons of sharks—including shark fins severed from their corresponding torsos—were discovered by inspectors, a fraction of what would have been uncovered had the Vema not recently returned to São Toméan waters from Walvis Bay, Namibia, a port commonly used for offloading shark fins.
The arrest of the Vema is the fourth shark-finning bust carried out over the past two years, three of which were the direct result of joint operations between São Tomé and Príncipe and Gabon, with assistance by Sea Shepherd ships and crew.
In August 2016, São Toméan authorities, again operating on board Sea Shepherd's Bob Barker, arrested a Spanish long-line fishing vessel, the Alemar Primero. On board the Alemar Primero were 87 tons of sharks and shark fins. The EU Directorate-General of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG Mare) decided not to pursue charges of violating the European Union Finning Ban, despite complaints lodged by the São Toméan fisheries department.
In October 2017, the São Toméan fisheries department issued a Notice of Violation of Fisheries Rules to another Spanish ship owner, as well as a request to the European Commission to investigate an additional violation of the European Union Finning Ban, this time by a Spanish long-line fishing vessel, the Baz.
On Sept. 12th, 2018, one week prior to the arrival of the Bob Barker in the waters of São Tomé and Príncipe, the Taiwanese-flagged Shang Fu was arrested by São Toméan Coast Guard with assistance from the Portuguese Navy.
Shark species are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they're slow to grow, late to mature and breed small numbers of offspring.
São Toméan fisheries regulations that prohibit processing of sharks at-sea and the European Union Finning Ban are existing conservation measures that ensure shark bodies are not discarded at sea to make room for the more valuable shark fins, therefore allowing far more sharks to be killed. Sharks are being killed in increasingly large numbers to meet a demand for fins to make shark fin soup.
Sea Shepherd works with authorities in African coastal states in unique joint patrols that allow shark finning operations to be uncovered through critical boardings and inspections at sea.
"Given how sensitive shark species are to overfishing, coupled with the fact that 15 percent of shark species in the Atlantic are now endangered, it is alarming that industrial fishing vessels, many from Europe, continue to massacre sharks under the guise of tuna licenses," said Sea Shepherd director of campaigns Peter Hammarstedt. "These trojan horse fishing licenses deliberately mislead African coastal states as fishing vessels [and] slaughter sharks with reckless abandon.
Sea Shepherd applauds the São Toméan authorities for working together with Gabon and Sea Shepherd to bring African marine wildlife poachers to justice."
Monitoring of illegal fishing activities in the waters of Seychelles will soon be conducted by drones as the island nation embarks on a trial project.
The Seychelles Fishing Authority will be the coordinator of the project -- called FishGuard -- which will be integrated into the fisheries patrol routines of the Seychelles Air Force and the Seychelles Coast Guard.
"SFA is a leading partner in this project and eagerly looking forward to its implementation in view of the potential to significantly improve how the authority combats illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities, especially in the northern part of our EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone)," said Ronny Renaud, the authority's chief executive.
Surveillance of large marine areas will be done using a combination of the short and long-range drone equipped with artificial intelligence.
A drone is an unmanned aircraft that may be remotely controlled or can fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans by working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS.
The project will be tested in October with the Seychelles Air Force designated as the operator. The Coast Guard will support the project by providing a vessel for at-sea deployment of the drones, and the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority will ensure that safety requirements are met and required flight authorizations are obtained.
FishGuard is the brainchild of Badr Idrissi and Younes Moumen, who co-founded ATLAN Space -- a technology startup developing unmanned aerial vehicles with artificial intelligence. The drones are programmed to be self-reliant and capable of making independent decisions based on data collected.
The National Geographic awarded ATLAN Space with funding to partner its 'FishGuard' pilot programme.
In an article on Citizen Truth, Idrissi said, "If the drone is 95 percent sure that behaviour is illegal, it will send the relevant local authorities information detailing the time of the occurrence, the GPS coordinates, the location and any other relevant data that will help them decide on the course of action."
Until most recently, patrolling large marine areas through the use of drones has been technologically restricting. This is mainly due to range limitation and high costs.
A communiqué from the Seychelles Fishing Authority states that "with this unprecedented combination of short-range drones, autonomous long-range UAVs, Earth observation data and fisheries intelligence analysis, it is expected that the pilot project in Seychelles will help the authorities to identify illegal fishing operations, trigger enforcement actions and crucially produce a deterrent effect on illegal activities."
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has a vast Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.37 million square kilometres, which presents a challenge when it comes to the monitoring of illegal fishing.
The project is expected to significantly decrease the impact of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing on the Seychelles' marine resources and the people who depend on them.
Trygg Mat Tracking, a Norwegian non-profit analytical firm specialising in providing fisheries intelligence and analysis to countries to combat illegal fishing, will support the pilot programme. The firm will facilitate the transfer of information from the local fisheries authority and global databases and fed to the drone.
Another partner is GRID-Arendal which will be responsible for the provision of relevant Earth Observation data.
Nairobi, 17 September 2018 – The need to invest in innovative solutions and interventions and promote sustainable consumption and production will top the agenda at the seventh special session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), which takes place from 17 to 19 September in Nairobi.
The African continent holds 30 per cent of the world’s mineral reserves, roughly 65 per cent of its arable land and 10 per cent of its internal renewable energy sources. Its fisheries are estimated to be worth 24 billion USD and the continent hosts the second largest tropical forest in the world. Targeted environmental policies have the potential to provide solutions to sustainable socio-economic development and poverty alleviation across Africa.
Ecosystem degradation costs Africa 68 billion USD annually coupled with losses of up to 6.6 million tonnes of potential grain harvest, capable of meeting calorific needs of up to 31 million people. In addition, post-harvest losses are estimated at 48 billion USD annually.
“Africa should focus on making a paradigm shift through practical innovative actions so that we can benefit at the maximum levels,” said Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, UN Environment regional director for Africa, “We have made strides through AMCEN by taking policy reform directions to promote and strengthen innovative and environmentally sound actions that can ensure sustainable use of Africa’s natural capital.”
Among other key issues to be discussed is Africa’s preparation for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held from 3 to 14 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland.
The conference is held back to back with the first meeting of the Africa Environment Partnership Platform which will take place from 20 to 21 September. The aim of the Africa Environment Partnership Platform is to promote sustainable environmental management in Africa through enhanced partnership, coordination and harmonization of activities.
Representatives of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), sub-regional economic communities, the African Development Bank, civil society organizations, United Nations agencies as well as other bilateral and multilateral partners will also participate in this special session.
The conference is expected to adopt a declaration, a set of decisions and key messages, and the outcomes of the seventh special session of AMCEN will feed into the 4th session of the UN Environment Assembly meeting to be held in March 2019 at UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.
AMCEN was established in 1985 to promote regional cooperation in addressing environmental issues affecting Africa. UN Environment serves as the Secretariat of AMCEN and also provides both technical and financial support to the Conference. AMCEN is critical in providing strong leadership on environmental and sustainable development matters in Africa. Through its strong convening power, it brings together African Governments to deliberate on common positions on important environmental issues for the region.
About UN Environment
UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.
Fishermen pull up the nets in waters off Dar es Salaam in September 2018. Photograph: Peter Caton for the Observer
In Dar-es-Salaam, local fishermen are being squeezed out by illegal boats with explosives which take much of the catch, killing coral reef and putting an eco-system at risk.
Fishing boat XTK191, known as Home Boy, returned to Kivukoni fish market in downtown Dar es Salaam at dawn one day last week. The 15 young men on board the old dhow dropped anchor and heaved their catch over the side for others to run it across the beach to where hundreds of traders milled.
Within an hour of landing in eastern Africa’s largest fish market, Home Boy’s fish, crabs, prawn, lobsters, tuna, squid and shark pups were being sold in impromptu auctions, along with the catches of several dozen other boats.
But it was another disappointing voyage for skipper Peter Damasi and his crew. The heavy boat with a poor engine and no sail could not travel far. It spent most of its time in the shallow seas and reefs between Dar es Salaam and Mafia island, six hours away. They caught a few large red snappers and an eel, but the catch was small. It commanded a good price, but, says Damasi, it was close to the full moon, which traditionally makes it harder to fish, and Home Boy used 60 litres of diesel. The crew, whose wages depended on the catch, would have earned just a few dollars for their long days and nights’ work.
Nasser Ismael, one of Kivukoni’s market’s six board members, says he is both pleased and fearful about the situation. “The market is thriving. Fish have never been more in demand. Ten years ago, we had 10,000 people coming here every day. Now it’s 15,000. Over 150 boats come regularly and we are expanding. We export fish to Singapore. But the fish are disappearing, the catches are poor and the fish are much smaller than they used to be. We have advised the government that the industry needs to be modernised.”
His concerns are shared by Mapunda “Mr Star” Stamili, director of the nearby Star Fish food supply company. “We used to see 50kg tuna, and big kingfish, large sharks,” says Stamili. “We still get barracuda, dorado, red snapper, but they are not so big these days. The big fish are now only in the deep sea and small boats cannot go there. It’s dangerous. Ships and people disappear. Only last week, one man died at sea in a storm.
“The price of fish is very high now. It depends on availability. It’s upside-down compared with 10 years ago. Then fish was cheap and beef was expensive.”
According to global species database FishBase, Tanzania has some of the world’s richest fishing grounds, with more than 1,700 species recorded in its waters. Of these, 47 are commercially important, 69 are found only in deep water and 171 are threatened. With such bountiful resources, Tanzania should not need to import fish, but the government, regional agencies and the UN’s food and agriculture organisation say overfishing is rampant, depleting stocks, raising prices and threatening food security.
“It is a disgrace for a country like Tanzania to import fish, while there are plenty of species that could meet fish demand in the country,” says Abduallah Ulega, the deputy minister for livestock and fisheries.
Despite the number of fishing boats increasing by nearly 20% in five years to 66,000, the country recorded a sharp decline in catches, from 390,000 tonnes a year on average, to 360,000 tonnes in 2017, says the government. In 2016, Tanzania’s total demand was about 730,000 tonnes of fish, of which about 50% came from salt water and the rest from Lake Victoria and the growing number of fish farms. The shortfall is made up with fish from China and elsewhere.
But getting data on Tanzania’s annual catch or its fish stocks is hard. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by artisan, commercial and deep-sea fishing, is thought to be taking as much as 20% of the country’s fish costing the economy $400m a year, says the UN. Many vessels operate illegally or under false identities, catches are transferred at sea and not recorded, and market data showing fish landings is not exact.
What is certain is that fishing has become important in providing food for millions as the Tanzanian population more than doubled – from about 34 million in 2000 to 59 million today and an expected 89 million by 2035. Dar es Salaam and other coastal centres are growing fast, adding demand for seafood, and Lake Victoria, which Tanzania shares with Uganda and Kenya, is also heavily overfished.
The combination of booming demand, high prices and what should be abundant seas has encouraged rampant illegal fishing, says a Botswana-based NGO, Stop Illegal Fishing, which is funded by European and US donors.
The easiest method used by illegal fishers – but also the most ecologically damaging – is “blast fishing”, which uses dynamite or homemade bottle bombs made from fertiliser and kerosene. A single explosion can kill as much as 400kg of fish in a radius of 100ft, worth up to US$1,800, but will also destroy a reef. The chances of offenders being caught are negligible.
Tanzania is one of the few countries in the world where blast fishing is still carried out. “Explosives are easily accessed from the mining and construction industries,” says a Stop Illegal Fishing spokesman. “The low rate of enforcement and prosecutions, aggravated by corruption, bribery and intimidation of officials and fishers makes it easy. It destroys the coral reefs and threatens the country’s international tourism industry.”
California-based conservation group Sea Shepherd Global, best known for direct action campaigns including opposing Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean, is now working with Tanzanian government agencies to patrol Indian Ocean waters with a new 30knot cutter class ship, the Ocean Warrior.
The group, which has previously been employed to monitor and arrest illegal fishers in the Galapagos islands and off the west African coast, reported in July that its three-month Operation Jodari had resulted in the arrest of the owners and operators of two trawlers for illegal shark finning, the confiscation of 27 small dhows for smuggling and the fining of 19 vessels.
According to the government, which had its own inspection teams onboard the Ocean Warrior, the Chinese-flagged Tai Hong 1 and the Malaysian Buah Naga 1 vessels were both found to be carrying cargoes of shark fins, suggesting the carcasses of the fish had been thrown overboard. Fines of more than $8m were levied on foreign fishing vessels.
Large foreign trawlers are now common off the east African coast, says IUUWatch, an EU-based organisation monitoring illegal fishing in the Indian ocean. “These trawlers deploy giant, non-selective nets, wiping out entire schools of tuna, including the young ones, which they discard dead.”
But while it is easier to track fishing vessels with GPS and satellite systems, apprehending them and taking them to court is hard and expensive. Last year an EU-World Bank project saw 49 patrols carried out along the eight countries on the east African coast. This resulted in 12 vessels being seized and 120 offences recorded. At the same time, 670 boats, many of which were suspected of fishing illegally, were monitored.
The situation on Lake Victoria, meanwhile, is critical, says the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation. It estimates that between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda there are now more than 200,000 fisherman and 60,000 fishing boats, with a further 2,000 new boats taking to the lake each year. The result, says the UN food and agriculture organisation, is a dramatic drop in thenumber and size of Nile perch, from as much as 50kg per fish in the 1980s to less than 10kg today.
“It’s happening all over Africa,” says Damasi, in Kivukoni market. “As the big fish disappear, we are forced to catch smaller fish. But by wiping out the smaller fish, which have not had time to reproduce, we are threatening the species’ survival.”
Residents of Tripoli's seafront wake up most weekends to loud blasts: fishermen using dynamite to maximise their catch, regardless of the damage they are causing to marine life.
Dynamite fishing, or "blast fishing", has flourished -- with impunity -- since Libya's 2011 uprising that left the country awash with weapons and explosives.
The Mediterranean country has since descended into chaos and violence, with two rival administrations struggling to impose the law and a myriad of militias vying for control of its oil wealth.
As a result, protecting fish stock and the environment are not a priority for the authorities, experts and officials say.
Haytham Ali, a newly-married teacher, lives less than 50 metres (yards) from the beach in the capital's residential suburb of Hay al-Andalous.
"My wife and I enjoy the peace and quiet of Friday mornings in our garden by the sea, but the explosions... as early as 7 am remind us of all that is wrong in this country," he said.
Mariam, a 64-year-old widow, said the blasts frighten her grandchildren when they come to visit her home near the water.
"My whole house and my old windows shake with every blast... and I have to reassure my grandchildren that it's only people fishing, not NATO bombs all over again," she said, referring to the uprising that was backed by the Western alliance.
Dynamite fishing and the use of explosives without a permit are both officially against the law, but dynamite fishermen appear to be immune.
They even post anonymous videos online of sea water being propelled high into the sky and dozens of dazed or dead fish left behind on the surface.
"We hear (the blasts) but no one can do anything about it," said Bannour Abu Kahal, head of the fisheries department in Garaboulli, east of Tripoli.
Some marine biologists, fishermen and fishmongers, and even religious leaders have tried to speak out against blast fishing but to no avail.
Using dynamite to catch fish "depletes the fish stock in the sea", said Mokhtar, a fishmonger in central Tripoli, who declined to give his surname.
"This practice is not correct or healthy for the consumer" because it stuns the fish and shreds its skin, he said.
The explosives, known as "gelatine" in Libya, "kills the fish, the fish roe, larvae and sea plants", said Fathi al-Zaytuni, a fishmonger who uses nets for his catch.
The explosive devices used in Libya are mostly home-made and have caused dozens of deaths and injuries, according to media reports.
Lana news agency reported in March that three men from the same family died in a blast in the eastern city of Sirte as they were preparing bombs for blast fishing.
Sheikh Sadek al-Ghariani, the country's disputed top religious figure, has also waded into the controversy.
"If this type of fishing is banned by laws that regulate fishing, or if it is prejudicial to man and the environment, then it should not be practiced," he said in a fatwa, religious edict, issued in 2013.
Abu Kahal, the fishing director in Garaboulli, urged "concerned authorities, especially the coastguard, to do their job and put an end to this kind of fishing".
On a warm and humid August evening, retired fisherman Abdelrazag al-Bahri, 72, sat at Tripoli port counting the few fishing boats heading out to sea to catch sardines.
"There is still hope as long as some good fishermen respect the trade" and go out at night to haul a catch the traditional way with nets, he said.
He said traditional fishing in Libya had mostly been the work of Egyptians and Tunisians but they had fled the country, with few Libyans now willing to replace them.
The President has directed us to ensure that as government we urgently initiate farmer support programmes in depressed areas before the first rains of this year.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, August 3, 2018/APO Group/ --
The Marine sector continues to be a contested sector and as a result many key players are putting immense pressure from government to act in ways that favours their interests. It is a concern to government that various issues that have been occupying much of the media space have not been about the advancement of transformation for the fisheries sector. To the contrary, these issues are about a contested space between maintaining the status quo in terms of ownership and control of the industry against the need for transformation. The ocean economy, and more specifically, the fishing sector is one of the lucrative sectors yet underreported in terms of its opportunities for our economy at large. Since my appointment in the Department I made a firm commitment to drive transformation and diversify this niche sector which is dominated by established white and foreign companies harvesting our marine living resources. I have always been concerned by the lack of entry by those who were previously disadvantaged to the industry. The amendment of the Marine Living Resources Act has located firmly on the agenda the issue of transformation of the industry.
We want to see more Africans in general and blacks in particular participating as Small Scale Fisheries (SSF) at all levels as primary fishers, processors and marketers. We want to see our emerging fisheries owning fishing vessels and therefore expand their capacity as major players in the industry. It is pleasing that already we have some Small Scale Fisheries who are organized and already understand the sector. We also acknowledge that our pace of transformation for SSF to upscale faster than they are, through transformation in line with Marine Living Resources Act, has been slow. Allocation of fishing rights to the previously disadvantaged sections of our society is my priority. A lot of work is being done in this regard to open more access through quotas so that fields are levels for entrance. Ocean economy carries with it massive opportunities for this country, it has a potential to unlock great numbers of employment opportunities whilst facilitating many downstream and upstream business opportunities including in its value chain.
It is in this regard that as a Department we have been dragged to Court by World Wild Fund (WWF) for us to reduce significantly the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in West Coast Rock lobster Crayfish. As South African government, appreciating the social dynamics such as the need to create more access for the Small Scale Fisheries and coastal communities to the fishing sector, we choose an approach that is balanced - that is scientific considerations coupled with the appreciation of our inescapable mandate to increase access to the marine living resources, especially those who were excluded in the past. Multiplying Small Scale Fisheries and access to the nearshore harvest of poor coastal communities for purposes of food security is what I want to achieve in all our four coastal provinces.
We hold the view that biological and scientific considerations are important and need to be considered in the broader spectrum of socio economic balance, in particular for a developing country like ours whereby social and economic cleavages are so acute. In areas where there are no issues of social redress to level the access fields in our marine living resources extraction, which is the biggest economic endowment the country has, we will definitely act in ways that are non-interventionist. In this regard we are concerned about some Small Scale Fisheries who have joined the Court case as friends of the Court from the side of the WWF than government. I have directed that we meet them for engagement so that they understand that government is acting in their interests.
Small Scale Fisheries Policy Implementation
The primary aim of the Small Scale Fisheries Policy (SSFP) is to provide redress and recognition of the customary rights of traditional fishers and to promote the socio-economic development of these fishers and the communities in which they reside. The Department has started the Small Scale Fisheries Policy implementation process with the amendment and promulgation of the Marine Living Resources Act and approval of the Small-Scale Fishing Regulations in March 2016. The Department also conducted an extensive registration and verification process for small-scale fishers in 2016 covering 316 communities and registering over 22 000 applicants. Applicants were verified against a set of five criteria and provisional list of successful fishers were announced in communities in 2016-2017. This provided unsuccessful applicants an opportunity to appeal. The appeals process has closed and the Department has assessed all the appeals and made recommendations to the Minister on the final list of successful small-scale fishers.
As a Minister, I have approved the final list of small-scale fishers for Northern Cape (October 2017), Eastern Cape (December 2017) and KwaZulu-Natal (December 2017). The final lists were subsequently announced in the respective provinces. It is only the Western Cape communities that are outstanding due to the added complexity of the Department having to follow-up on tip-off information that it received from communities before final list of fishers can be announced. With regard to the Western Cape, I have recently appointed the Appeals Advisory Team on the Fisheries Rights Allocation Process (FRAP2015/16) and the Appeals Advisory Team will advise me for all the West Coast Rock Lobster fishery appeals, the work that will be finalized no later than the 31st of August 2018.
The Department has also consulted on a proposed fee structure for the small-scale fishery in July 2017. After the final lists were announced the Department provided two-day compulsory training for the fishers in order for them to understand the workings of a co-operative, understand their roles and responsibilities in a co-operative and to adopt their co-operative constitution and complete the registration documents for their co-operative. Training for co-operatives was conducted in February 2018 for Northern Cape communities, March 2018 for KwaZulu-Natal communities, and June 2018 for Eastern Cape co-operatives. The first two small-scale fishing co-operatives were registered in May and July 2018. The Department followed-up on the registration of co-operatives by commencing with a rights allocation process in July 2018. The process going forward is to announce the final list of successful fishers in Western Cape and to provide training to these fishers before mobilizing the fishers into co-operatives. The next step is to complete the small-scale fishing rights allocation process for all co-operatives and to facilitate support programmes after the rights have been allocated. Northern Cape is the first province earmarked for the allocation of small-scale fishing rights which is likely by September 2018. The other provinces will follow in due course in 2018/19.
We are moving with great speed in maximizing entrances of the previously disadvantaged people and communities to the fishing business as part of deepening diversity and economic transformation.
As we continue with these strides, there are companies that are working against the good cause of government by all means. It has been brought to my attention that hundreds of individual fishing rights holders based on the Western Cape coastal fishing communities have been unlawfully displaced of their rights through a transaction involving two well-known commercial entities.
The complaints made are of a serious nature and in response to the Office of the Public Protector I have dispatched a legal team to meet the affected fishing communities. I have further mandated the team to contact all implicated commercial entities.
This matter is receiving the full attention of the department and we hope to bring resolution to all those involved
War against Abalone Poaching
As a Minister, I am concerned about the scale with which abalone poaching in this country is rising with sophisticated foreign syndicates at play. I have been disturbed that' despite our marine Fisheries Control Guards efforts which has ensured that we confiscate the stolen abalones, that these syndicates have succeeded to infiltrate some of our officials who are colluding to smuggle abalone out of our stores where we keep it. Recently our own Officials have been arrested for these acts of stealing abalone working with these syndicates. Poaching is part of Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing which is a Global Challenge. We are dealing with syndicates with deep pockets who bribe their way through.
Globally, fisheries resources available to bona fide fishers are poached in a ruthless manner by IUU fishing, often leading to the collapse of local fisheries, with small-scale fisheries in developing countries proving particularly vulnerable. South Africa is not exempted from this global challenge. However we are delighted that, action is being taken all over the globe to combat IUU fishing and DAFF, in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, has had its hands full in terms of taking law enforcement action (arrest & issuing fines) against IUU fishing suspects in all four coastal provinces.
In one incident recently on the 16th July 2018, 12 suspected poachers were arrested and a Boat confiscated with 1544 Abalone Units in Robben Island area. A Docket had been registered in Table Bay Harbour Police Station.
On another incidents, seven suspected poachers were tracked down and arrested on the 8th of July 2018 in Bloubaai, Gansbaai area for illegal possession of Abalone, a Colt Bakkie and a Boat was confiscated. On the same day, in Port Elizabeth a person was arrested, a Boat and various types of fish were confiscated. In Lusikisiki and Flagstaff, four were arrested for illegal possession of East Coast Rock Lobster on the 7th and 8th of July 2018. And a lot of others.
As part of mitigation, I am looking at measures such as appointing a service provider that will distribute the confiscated abalone to our fishing communities and cooperatives than keeping them to our government stores.
We are on an initiative to use the services of the Military Veterans in order to reinforce Departmental capacity in fighting poaching of the Marine Living Resources. This is in line with our long held view that the Department alone will not succeed in fighting poaching and therefore a need for all strategic structures of our society to be mobilized towards assisting in curbing the challenge of poaching. We are also engaging the Department of Military Veterans in order to ensure that Military Veterans are not only utilized in the Western Cape but also in Eastern Cape, Kwazulu Natal and Northern Cape.
I have also engaged with the Minister of Environmental Affairs to exchange experiences of how rhino poaching is being dealt with so that we improve even more our efforts to protect this endangered species in our ocean. This fight also includes the poaching of our west coast and east coast rock lobster crayfishes in our ocean. We will also approach the Department of Justice to consider re-opening Environmental Courts where in Fisheries cases can be dealt with specialization and with prioritization they deserve because currently they compete with other cases like Murder, Rape, Assault GBH, which are generally viewed to be more serious than Fisheries cases.
Preliminary Reflection on the Current Land Discourse
For us in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, our mandate is going to be impacted upon by the outcomes and processes that will arise from the consequence of land expropriation without compensation. Consistent with the ANC resolution that says : "Ensure land reform enhances food security for poor families and maintain food security for South Africa as a whole". This means that all agricultural productive land expropriated and redistributed to the rightful owners, our task as the Department would be to roll out solid support programmes, extensive training of beneficiaries and conducting various hand-holding exercises so that we don't undermine agricultural production as an economic factor and food security for the country. We anticipate more small-holder farmers to emerge out of this path we are embarking and future commercial farmers and including their value chains.
This opportunity of owning land, if correctly handled, will empower our youth to pursue many agricultural enterprises taking advantage of smart technology that is now dominating the sector. We need a new generation of farmers from our youth ready to take up the cudgels from the aging generation of farmers. For adequate support provision, more capacity and resources in our Department is needed. We are setting ourselves up to cope with the potential demand. This capacity building is expected to be replicated in all our provincial Departments.
The President has directed us to ensure that as government we urgently initiate farmer support programmes in depressed areas before the first rains of this year. This should include supporting farmers with tools, tractors, fertilisers, seeds, extension services, finance and access to key infrastructure. I am convening the MinMec (A meeting of all MECs of Agriculture) soon this month to ensure that all provinces meets their Planting Season targets in the context of comprehensive food security support which includes distribution of all necessary implements to our people involved in the farming. We have been discharging these services to our people but more need to be done to cope with a renewed interest in sector.
As a Department we will expand our capacity working with our provincial Departments to deliver on the Freedom Charter’s dictates that "The State shall help the peasants with implements, seeds, tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the tillers"
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.