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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  16 Jan 2017

AGRICULTURE: A Court Order Halting Fishing in the Inshore Trawl Fishery is Necessary to Save Jobs


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Viking Inshore Fishing is among the 27 fishing companies that have been temporarily suspended from putting to sea in the inshore trawl fishery for hake and sole but the interdict granted by the Cape High Court this week was necessary to prevent irreparable harm to the company and secure the livelihoods of 179 employees, says a company spokesman.

Viking Inshore Fishing representative, Tim Reddell, says that following the allocation of 15-year rights in the R700 million per year fishery, the company’s quota was cut by approximately 60%, despite it achieving the second highest score in the process used by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to rank aspirant right-holders. The quota cut seriously threatened the survival of the company’s inshore trawl operation which was built up over 28 years.

“A 60% cut in our quota will devastate our business and see us lay-up three or four vessels – leaving their skippers and fishing crews without work − and in due course close down our hake and sole handling, packing and processing factory in Mossel Bay. This would destroy the employment opportunities we have created over many years. We decided we couldn’t do that to our people,” he said.

In terms of a court order issued by Judge Lee Bozalek on Tuesday 3 January 2017, the minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, and the Deputy Director General in the DAFF are prevented from issuing the permits that would allow right-holders in the inshore trawl fishery to start catching their 2017 quotas. Fishing will be suspended until the matter is heard in full by the Cape High Court in February.

In his judgement, Judge Bozalek said that Viking Fishing had established a prima facie case that the rights allocations were unlawful, irrational and procedurally unfair, and that the company had a reasonable prospect of success on appeal and in review proceedings. One of the main issues underlying the case was the unconstitutional basis of the quantum allocation mechanism.

“The court acknowledged that the quota cut would have caused irreparable harm to our business,” said Reddell.

“We are of the view that cutting the quotas of existing right-holders − particularly those that have built up fishing fleets, processing infrastructure and marketing networks over several decades − in favour of irrationally promoting new entrants will destroy value, as opposed to creating opportunities in the fishing industry. Many scarce jobs, as well as food security and economic benefits will be lost.”

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